CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (NNS) -- Readiness first means every Sailor at Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune (NMCCL) is ready to fight tonight, many of those fights battling injuries threatening the life of service members forward deployed.
NMCCL being a Level III Trauma Center complete with a transfer center and Inter-Facility Transport Team all aid in preparing Sailors for this fight.
These areas continue to improve the training opportunities for active-duty personnel through various certifications and license.
The Inter- Facility Transport Team (IFTT), which may be the only in the DoD, recently passed the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Specialty (EMS) inspection for state licensure, making it a North Carolina EMS Agency.
The team was also approved to operate as an Emergency Medical Specialty Care Transport Program to begin transports of critically and specialty care patients.
Both of these achievements will aid in training Corpsmen and active-duty nurses in caring for those in need while forward deployed, Zachary Hierl, IFTT paramedic said.
The IFTT provides transport of critically ill or injured, or specialty care patients to higher-level of care facilities, this includes trauma patients stabilized by the internal trauma team.
Hierl explained these transports range from 1.5 hours to 4 hours in length.
This timeframe is similar to one Corpsmen and nurses would face when caring for an injured service member before they can be transferred to a physician in country.
Hierl explained survivability of the service member soars to 95 percent if the patient arrives alive to a physician, making transport skills essential while in country when advanced care may be more than an hour away.
“Downrange that means we have more service members coming home to their friends and family,” Paige Way, IFTT and Transfer Center division officer, said.
Currently, Corpsmen are riding along with IFTT on transports of critically ill patients.
The transport ride along arm service members with skills necessary to increasing survivability of those injured in combat.
In order to perform procedures on the ride along, Sailors who have completed Corps School or something similar, can complete an online-course through Lenior Community College, then sit for the North Carolina Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Basic and National Registry exams.
Once complete, service members will be able to work elbow to elbow with Paramedics of the IFTT during transports.
“We have a lot of junior sailors and corpsmen here who don’t already have that experience, that field experience,” Hierl said. “Being able to remove them from that traditional hospital setting and providing care outside of that, with the limited resources, will force them to use more of their critical thinking skills and adapt to changing conditions.”
The paramedics who are part of the IFTT are knowledgeable of the equipment aboard the ambulances and how to operate in the environment, providing “teaching with an umbrella, an umbrella of security,” Doug Johnson, IFTT paramedic explained.
Operating in a condensed area of care can be difficult, with very few resources available if something is to go wrong moving down the road.
A typical transport team traveling with a patient consists of two paramedics, possibly a third, Way explained, much different than when working on a trauma patient within one of NMCCL’s trauma bays.
“Riding with us makes them much less dependent on doctors and nurses, and more dependent on themselves,” said Johnson.
These ride along opportunities allows service members to practice their transport and care of critically injured patients building their confidence, and ability to perform and care for potentially catastrophic injuries, before deploying.
“Confidence builds competence,” Way explained.
IFTT’s recent certifications not only aid in readiness but also allow NMCCL, a federal agency, to operate alongside the other state transport agencies, further aligning NMCCL with the state trauma system.
Neither of the certifications was a requirement, however, for the IFTT it was a necessary step in providing quality care and training opportunities.
“Getting licensed through the state allows us to maintain the same level and same standard of care as other critical care agencies in the state like Duke and East Care and New Hanover,” Hierl said. “Maintaining that same standard of care and bringing that optimal level of continuing care here for our patients is ideal. It also help us build and maintain relationships between us as federal entity and the state as well. It was voluntary on our part, but it was definitely something we wanted to take on.”
The IFTT hopes to grow the program to have Corpsmen, active-duty nurses, as well as Intensive Care Unit nurses completing full rotations with the team, including completing patient-care procedures during transports.
“We are still on the ground floor building this program,” said Hierl. “I hope we can build this into something other DoD facilities and agencies can model their own inter-facility transport teams off of. Being widespread across the DoD will mean we have better trained service members across the board when it comes to pre-hospital care [of those injured while deployed].”
For more news from Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune, visit www.navy.mil/local/nhcl/.