126th FST Training Exercise

By SPC Fabian Ortega
13th Sustainment Command (expeditionary) PAO

The 126th Forward Surgical Team, held a two-day field training exercise in conjunction with the Carl R.Darnall Army Medical Center on Fort Hood June 6 and 7. 

Medical Soldiers from the 126th FST, 36th Medical Evacuation Battalion, 1st Medical Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (expeditionary) performed surgeries and minor procedures on all-volunteer patients from CRDAMC. 

“We like to cross train, in the FST you never know when somebody from your crew is going to go down,” said Staff Sgt. Casey Nichols, a licensed practical nurse and noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the intensive care unit for the 126th FST. “If someone goes down, someone else on that team has to be able to step up and know that specialty or at least be able to have the on the job training,” Nichols said.

An FST is made up of nurses, technicians and doctors, acquired through a professional filler system.

“Doctors from Darnall volunteered to come out to do their procedures here. Normal operations for us, we wouldn’t have any doctors until we are ready to deploy,” Nichols said.

The 126th FST set up tents and generators and invited patients being treated by Darnall to participate in the FTX. The 126th saw more than 20 patients for procedures ranging from vasectomies to removal of cysts. 

“The patients opted to have their surgery or their minor procedure done out here with us to give us the training,” said Nichols. 

Mostly minor stuff, a little more mission oriented than the intensive care unit, added Nichols. 

Nichols said the hands on training and the human interaction with live patients is invaluable training something that cannot be replicated.

“Getting hands on with actual patients, going live with surgeries or even minor procedures, that’s important to us,” said Nichols. “To get real live patients to come through, you have everything set up for a whole realm of emergencies, everything it takes to get set up for what may happen we have done.”

Nothing like human interaction to give nurses and or techs the skills that they need to calm down that Soldier who has gone through that blast injury or had the IED explosion, Nichols explained. 

“To get hands on and to get that patient care that’s why it’s so invaluable to us to come out and do this.”


When medical Soldiers are not honing their emergency lifesaving skills in the field they are in hospital operating and recovery rooms brushing up on the basic of understanding of their mission, said Nichols.

Nichols said this leads to a professional work ethic and an understanding once they are in a field type setting similar to what an FST will experience in theater.

“When they are in their own setting and they’re working the mission like a hospital setting, you know the cogs are well oiled and everything is working appropriately,” he said.

Just watching the medical Soldiers work, I have 100 percent confidence that my guys to the left and the right of me know what they are doing, Nichols said.