Medic on a mission to improve MRAP
Story by U.S. Army Spc. John Stimac 139th Mobile Public Affairs
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq — Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles provide unparalleled protection for service members throughout Iraq, but one sergeant took his MRAP to a whole new level.
Staff Sgt. Michael Shaw, a medic for the 16th Sustainment Brigade and part of the unit’s personal security team, spent the last year upgrading an MRAP to function as a medical vehicle, in addition to its standard operating capabilities.
“Being in the back of the vehicle, it was obvious something needed to be done to make a viable trauma platform for any Soldier,” said Shaw.
Shaw, a native of Kinnelon, N.J., said this vehicle is one of a kind – a non-medical MRAP adapted to perform a medical mission.
“This is probably the only MRAP in theater to be modified to this extent, so the team and I nicknamed it the MEDRAP,” said Shaw.
Shaw said the vehicle’s support arms come too high for patient accessibility.
“The standard MaxxPro Plus may give a patient six inches or less headroom and, if you are trying to do a thorough assessment, it can’t be done when the patient is six inches from the roof,” said Shaw. “The only other alternative would be to put the patient on the floor.”
Placing patients on the floor could leave them open to additional injuries, including being impaled or crushed by equipment in the vehicle when it is traveling on rough terrain, Shaw said.
He placed the litter on the seats to solve the problem.
“I used a four-point system to make sure the litter remains in place, even in the event of a rollover,” said Shaw. “In addition to using my own strength, I put in a ratchet system as well. The patient is strapped to the litter and the hooks so they won’t be going anywhere.”
Sgt. 1st. Class Michael T. Garcia, the PST platoon sergeant with the 16th Sustainment Brigade, said one of the stipulations of Shaw’s project was that he not make permanent changes to the vehicle’s functionality.
“I gave him the left and right limitations,” said Garcia. “My big thing was not to take any seats out and he accommodated me on that.”
Shaw said all of the upgrades are collapsible and could be taken down in 30 seconds if needed.
“Nothing has changed the ability of this vehicle,” said Shaw. “If need be, the vehicle could hold its full passenger capability.”
Shaw said he also changed the way the litter is placed in the vehicle, going feet first so the patient’s head is not directly under the weapons’ rack.
“If I didn’t do that, brass and ammo would be possibly falling in the persons face,” said Shaw.
Shaw also color-coded all of his medical supplies and strategically placed them on the wall.
“I made the oxygen and airway passage items blue and the extreme trauma items in red,” said Shaw. “In the heat of the moment, I will know exactly where everything is, and any of the other medics or passengers could read what is what on the wall.”
Shaw used some of his own funds to upgrade the vehicle and had the tags made at the local sewing shop.
“Price doesn’t matter,” said Shaw. “It is all about what I need to do to be proficient in my job, or to possibly save someone’s life if something happens.”
Shaw’s upgrades to the vehicle did not go unnoticed by his team.
“Staff Sgt. Shaw took a basic MaxxPro Plus vehicle and turned it into a rolling medical facility that could rival any TMC in country,” said Garcia.
Although the unit has had no serious trauma patients, the vehicle is ready for that type of situation, Shaw said.
“We have treated a local national that was in an accident when we were out one time,” said Shaw.
He said his unit secured the area, the patient accepted their care and they stabilized her until the Iraqi Army took her to a hospital.
Shaw said he takes a lot of pride in his mission.
“My job is to keep them alive, stabilize them and get them on to the next level of care,” he said.
Staff Sgt. Michael Shaw, a personal security team medic with the 16th Sustainment Brigade, and a Kinnelon, N.J., native, shows some of the modifications he made to a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle. This is Shaw's third deployment to Iraq.
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. John Stimac)