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NEWS | May 18, 2016

Sailors perfect battlefield surgical capabilities

By Staff Sgt. Jared Trimarchi Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

More than 100 Sailors assigned to Surgical Company B, 4th Medical Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Forces Reserve, participated in a five-day medical field exercise which ended May 15, 2016 at Joint Base Charleston, S.C.

The exercise tested the capabilities of Surgical Company B's forward resuscitative surgical system, or FRSS, which is a rapidly mobile trauma surgical team designed to be in close proximity to combat units on the battlefield.

"When we deploy we encounter a fast pace environment, treating Marines who have injuries ranging from gunshot wounds to IED blasts," said HM1 Argenis Mendoza, Surgical Company B surgical technician. "This exercise is designed to test and enhance the capabilities of our medical corpsman who don't do this type of work on a daily basis."

According to Mendoza, in the battlefield, Marines who are injured are transported via helicopter to a FRSS to reduce the amount of time needed for treatment which increases the likelihood of survival for the patient.

"I work in a hospital in my civilian job as a business manager and when I put on this uniform my mission changes completely," Mendoza said. "It's a humbling experience to be part of a surgical team working in a combat environment to save lives."

Sailors began the exercise by assembling an emergency room, a surgical room and a recovery room in three separate tents.

"In a real world situation we are required to set up all of our equipment to be ready to treat patients within an hour," said Chief Petty Officer Rafael Corrada, assigned to Surgical Company B. 

Surgical Company B is made up of four battalions who are separated geographically from Miami to Washington, D.C. The company is home to medical doctors, hospital corpsman and a group of Marines, who are in charge of security, communications and transportation.

This is the first time the company has completed the exercise at Joint Base Charleston.

"Since the (Medical Logistics Platoon, Detachment 3) provides us with our medical equipment, which is expensive, and is located in Charleston, the decision was made to fly the units here," said Chief Petty Officer Billini Benoit, Surgical Company B corpsman.

According to Benoit, a cost analysis is currently being done to determine if bringing the Sailors closer to the necessary medical equipment has proven to be cheaper.

The unit performed an initial exercise earlier in the year and is preparing for a final evaluation which puts the unit in ready status for deployment.

"It's gratifying to see how smoothly the company is performing," Corrada said. "I'm amazed everyone came together after only working together once before. Medical professionals rely on teamwork to be effective and I'm impressed to see how cohesive the unit is even though we are separated geographically."