USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) conducted a mass casualty drill March 17, as part of a continued commitment to mission readiness.
A mass casualty is any instance in which the level of casualties is greater than the medical department can support.
"The number of casualties that warrants a mass casualty response is typically five or more," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Stuart A. Breen, flight deck corpsman and initial responder. "When this happens, a mass casualty is called away to set up all the battle dressing stations to take on the influx of patients."
There are four levels of casualties used to categorize the injured who will then be taken to one of four corresponding triage stations.
"A red station is for those needing immediate care, yellow for those marked delayed, black for expectant and green for what are called 'walking wounded,'" said Breen.
Another aspect of a mass casualty event is the activation of the walking blood bank.
"This is our way to handle a situation in which, we may need a large quantity of blood to save a patient's life very rapidly," said Breen. "Blood out of body has an expiration date so we store some on board but the rest we must get from the crew."
"Anyone can potentially save someone's life by participating in the walking blood bank and those interested should come down to medical to sign up," said Breen.
A mass casualty event doesn't just affect the medical department, as the cause of such massive damage and injury would likely be a ship-wide catastrophe.
"Today's drill was important because it integrated personnel from medical, damage control, weapons, navigation and the air wing to combat a massive fire with mass casualties on the flight deck," said Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Frank Markulin, assistant drill coordinator. "The flight deck crew and air wing had to respond to two separate scenes while navigation steered the ship to aid in firefighting efforts and rapid elevator transport of the injured to the hangar bay for medical treatment."
The main focus of a drill like this is mission readiness and the overall ability of the Enterprise to carry out its operational missions.
"An aircraft carrier exists to launch and recover aircraft," said Markulin. "If there was an actual casualty on the flight deck, we need to get it under control as quickly as possible so the rest of the ship is not affected.
"If it gets out of control the entire ship is at risk and Enterprise would not be able to complete her mission," said Markulin.
Markulin said that while it is critical to have a well-structured leadership team, it is the E-6 and below Sailors who really deserve the praise in these evolutions.
"The Sailors did a great job today combating both fires and medical did an outstanding job with triage," said Markulin. "Remember, it is the blue shirts and junior Sailors who get these fires put out and return the ship to full operational readiness and they deserve that recognition."
The sentiment was also expressed by Lt. j.g. Gilbert Lee Bishop II, the mass casualty drill coordinator, who is responsible for making sure everyone is trained to respond to any type of emergency that happens on the flight deck or in the hangar bay.
"Today's drill was mainly focused on combating multiple fires and the safe movement of 50 casualties from the flight deck to the hanger bay," said Bishop. "It's all about saving lives and keeping the Enterprise afloat and able to carry out her operational missions," said Bishop.
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