Army Upgrades Frontline Surgical Teams
The 745th Forward Surgical Team, a detachment of the 31st Combat Support Hospital, became the Army's first unit to upgrade into a Forward Resuscitation and Surgical Team at Fort Bliss, Texas, Feb. 6.
The unit converted as part of a coordinated medical materiel fielding with the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, a subordinate organization of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.
A highly mobile 20-person medical team that operates close to the front lines, FSTs provide emergency resuscitation and surgery to injured Service Members prior to further medical evacuation. The conversion to the FRST restructures the team and resources so they can split into two separate 10-person teams that are both able to provide "damage control" resuscitation, surgery and post-operative care.
"Functionally, FSTs have been splitting up in support of missions for years. However, when we would split up an FST, we would have to decide which team took a certain medical device or personnel," said Lt. Col. Brian Cooley, 745th FRST commander. "Now, with the restructure to a FRST, each team can provide complete capabilities. FRSTs are modular and scalable, offering the Army greater mission flexibility."
Cooley, a certified registered nurse anesthetist who has served in the Army for 28 years, worked alongside his fellow Soldiers during the fielding. Similar to a FST, the FRST includes Army doctors, nurses and medics -- some of which are pulled from the Army Professional Filler System, a program that fills deploying units with needed personnel to complete the mission. One change, however, is that FRSTs are no longer slotted to include operating room nurses. Detachment Sergeant Sgt. 1st Class Michael Reisinger, a combat medic with more than 13 years of service, said that change will require some team cross-training prior to deployment.
"I will be focused on making sure my Soldiers are fully trained and mentally prepared for the mission," said Reisinger, who participated in the fielding coordinated by USAMMA Mid-Western Regional Manager Jude Corpuz in collaboration with USAMMA colleagues Emma Ashford and Natalie Ingram.
"Overall, this was a smooth fielding, due in great part to the unit for its support with the pre-planning and participation during the actual fielding and joint inventory," said Corpuz.
Corpuz also noted that the unit's property book officer participated during the fielding to ensure property accountability in the Global Combat Support System-Army, the Army's single system for logistics management and property visibility. To keep FRSTs lean and agile, they do not include medical maintainers as part of the core team. This means that FRSTs depend on brigade-level support for medical maintenance and medical resupply.
Medical maintenance directly affects readiness. Medical equipment must be routinely serviced on schedule and calibrated in order to work properly. In order to plan for these maintenance cycles, brigade-level medical maintainers must have system visibility of the unit's medical equipment within GCSS-Army. Corpuz emphasized that accurate accountability in GCSS-Army is essential.
"There are many steps to the fielding process," added Corpuz, "but our goal when we're finished is to leave the unit ready to complete its mission."
The USAMMA plans to field the rest of the Army's FSTs, including 17 active units and 22 reserve units, to support their conversions to FRSTs within the next six years.