Photo Information

AL QAIM, Iraq ? Sailors at the HSSE here treat a patient during a mass casualty exercise. The exercises occur twice a week, but this was the fist conducted with the FRSS from Al Taqaddum. The eight sailors from the FRSS are to provide surgical capabilities here for the duration of the increased operational tempo of 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment.

Photo by Cpl. Andrew Kalwitz

Al Qaim medical facility receives upgrade

21 May 2007 | Cpl. Andrew Kalwitz

The Health Service Support Element of Detachment 2, Combat Logistics Battalion 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), upgraded its capabilities to support the increased operational tempo of 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment.

Eight sailors of the Forward Resuscitative Surgical Suite from Al Taqaddum enabled the upgrade by bringing the necessary equipment and expertise to temporarily provide surgical capabilities.

“Normally, we don’t have a surgeon around and if a patient needs surgery, we have to medically evacuate them,” said Seamen Gabriel D. Florez, a hospital nurse with the HSSE.

The FRSS arrived here May 12 and has already had an effect on the HSSE.

During one of the facility’s bi-weekly mass casualty drills May 14, the presence of the FRSS enabled the treatment of patients rather than enacting a rush to fly them to Al Asad for surgery.

“The time it takes to fly from here to Al Asad is anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour,” said Lt. Cmdr. Angela S. Earley, a trauma surgeon from Al Taqaddum Surgical Detachment. “That could be the difference between life and death.”

Earley, a Xenia, Ohio, native, and other members of the FRSS have had an opportunity to trade advice and share experiences with the 18 servicemembers at the HSSE. She said she hopes both teams continue to learn from each other until the FRSS returns to Al Taqaddum.

“I wish we could keep them here longer,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Candeese Bost, a hospital corpsman with the HSSE and a Statesville, N.C., native. “They give great feedback. It’s better for us to hear what the OR’s side of the house has to say.”

Chief Petty Officer Mary D. Weiss-Brandenburg, a hospital corpsman and the senior enlisted leader with the HSSE, agreed with Bost and went on to explain the significance of understanding things from a surgeon’s point-of-view.

“We try to anticipate what the surgeons are going to be looking for when they’re flown to a higher level medical facility,” said the St. Paul, Minn., native.

Weiss-Brandenburg said this will be important to learn before the HSSE no longer has the FRSS and their surgical capabilities.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert M. Beal, an advanced laboratory technician with the HSSE and a Harrisburgh, Ill., native said he is certain the capabilities will be beneficial while they’re present.

“We hope we never have to use it,” he said. “But if we do, I’m more than confident that we’re ready.”

Headquarters Marine Corps