Abraham Lincoln Health Services Implements First-Responder Process

Story Number: NNS080715-10Release Date: 7/15/2008 4:52:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Rialyn Rodrigo, USS Abraham Lincoln Public Affairs

USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Health Services Department developed a new first-responder process July 8 to improve emergency services aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, deployed to the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

"Medical emergency, medical emergency" is an announcement Sailors often hear over the 1MC aboard Abraham Lincoln. For [the] Health Services department this announcement is critical.

Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW) Russell Cole is one of the senior corpsmen who coordinates the medical emergency response teams. He explained the department developed a new process of responding to medical emergencies to reduce the amount of 1MC announcements in the event of a simple case and not an actual emergency.

"We developed a process to send a first responder to the scene," Cole said. "In the past, the entire response team would rush to get to the location. Now, if we receive a phone call saying there's a medical emergency, we send one person to respond to the scene with a radio and response bag, which contains [a] first aid kit used for trauma. He or she will examine the situation and report back to medical if it's a true medical emergency."

Cole explained once they get the report and it's determined an emergency, they call the boatswain's mate of the watch to make the announcement over the 1MC.

As the first responder leaves medical, the response team is assembled in the event they need to head to the scene.

Each team consists of five corpsmen and one care provider. They bring a trauma bag, airway bag, defibrillator and stretcher if they are called to respond.

"It is important to understand how to read tac numbers because that's how we identify and locate the spaces," said Cole. "Then it's important to know what to do because you'll never know what you're going to walk into. [You] make sure the space is safe, and then check for ABCs [air, breathing and circulation]."

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW/AW) Amiel Guerrero, a member of the medical response team, carries a first response kit.

"When I hear the medical emergency whistle, I drop anything I'm doing," said Guerrero. "I go to the station, find out the location and grab the gear, then start heading to the location; at the same time, I try to figure out the easiest route."

When they call medical emergency away, it's important to get to the location right away, noted Guerrero. They refer to this critical time period as the "golden minute," about 5 to 10 minutes to get to the location.

Guerrero noted the Sailors aboard are cooperative and helpful when a medical emergency is called out.

"The ship's role when they call a medical emergency is to stand by and clear the area," said Guerrero. "A lot of times there are shipmates that help us; they direct us to the exact location. Sometimes they would be a stretcher bearer and carry the patient back to medical."

Guerrero explained that serving as a member of the medical response team is challenging but rewarding.

"It's a great honor for me to be part of the team," Guerrero said. "It represents being part of something greater than myself, because it's just not me saving my shipmate's life but all of us on the team. I remember what my Hospital Corpsman 'A' School instructor said after my graduation, 'Ours is but a sacred duty.'"

Lincoln is deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom as well as maritime security operations. Operations in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility are focused on reassuring regional partners of the United States commitment to security, which promotes stability and global prosperity.

For more news from USS Abraham Lincoln, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.

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