555th FST prepare for surgery during a field surgical exercise
Photos and story by Sgt Thomas Ralls
13th COSCOM Public Affairs Office
The 555th Forward Surgical Team conducted a live surgical exercise on 19 November while in the field. Three procedures were performed. According to First Sergeant Lester Bryant, the exercise was "designed to validate the skills of individuals assigned to the Forward Surgical Team; using our equipment. Helping keep these soldiers ready to perform their mission should they be called upon again".
The Units Mission is to stabilize casualties in need of immediate care then transfer them to the rear for further treatment or recovery. This unit has capabilities similar to an emergency room. The unit is made up of 20 soldiers, ten enlisted and ten officers, to include three general surgeons and one orthopedic surgeon.
This field training exercise was a combined effort in that several different units from the 1st Medical Brigade participated. The patients arrived in a field ambulance from the 546th Area Support Medical Company, then flown in a helicopter from the 507th Air Ambulance to the field site.
Patients were prepped and one at a time the surgeries began. Procedures included, one lypoma and two hernia repairs. Maj. Michael Weber the Commander of the 555th FST performed all three surgeries. Weber began the first surgery at around 8:30 in the morning, and completed the last around 2:45 pm. All surgeries were successful and patients were released later in the day. The importance of this type of training was reinforced by the unit's recent deployment.
The 555th Forward Surgical Team deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on February 4th and redeployed to Fort Hood June 4th of this year. The unit provided direct support to units of the 3rd Infantry Division throughout the ground war. These soldiers took care of everything from minor cuts and bruises to amputations.
At times the soldiers worked around the clock. Just when the team thought they had a lull in the action, and time to take a deep breath and relax for a few moments, the sound of helicopters would be heard bringing more wounded. According to Bryant the unit treated approximately 170 patients, which included 40 surgical procedures during their deployment. Although the work was stressful the unit has formed a bond that is obvious in the way they work together. Weber has nothing but praise for his " team of all-stars."