Story by PO2 Kris Lindstrom on 08/09/2019PORTSMOUTH, Va. (Aug. 8, 2019) A day in age where the U.S. Navy's primary focus is on readiness, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP) collaborates with the U.S. Army Medical Command to conduct the annual Combat Extremity Surgery Course (CESC) on Aug. 1 and 2.
Capt. Lisa Mulligan, NMCP's commanding officer, visited the group attending the course at the kick-off to speak with them about how important the course they are about to take is to their readiness.
"When we talk about the ready medical force, this is exactly the kind of thing we are talking about," Mulligan said. "That we are staying current and really learning the cutting-edge best techniques for taking care of our wartime causalities, and our beneficiaries when appropriate. I couldn't be more excited that we are offering this course here."
CESC was designed to provide deploying surgeons, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and combat medics/hospital corpsmen the skills necessary to manage extremity trauma. In addition to fractures, it is not uncommon for battlefield extremity injuries to also have complex soft tissue injuries, vascular injuries, and/or burns.
"One of our high-reliability organization principles is readiness and while stateside, we struggle with making sure we have enough trauma training for our surgeons," said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Smith, director of the course and Orthopedic Research at NMCP. "This is one venue that can help bolster their knowledge, skills and abilities to go forward in theater and be safe surgeons taking care of our warfighters, which is our primary mission."
This is the fourth year in a row that NMCP has hosted the CESC and it is the east coast anchor for this course and plans to continue annually. Navy Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) also holds an annual course for the west coast.
Cmdr. James Hammond, department head of Orthopedic Surgery at NMCP, thinks that the training and availability the course provides for surgeons to get hands on with specific trauma related injuries is invaluable. He also said it's a great refresher for someone in a practice that restricts their surgical scope to a specific part of the body and not all extremities.
"This is a great opportunity for guys like myself, I am a shoulder and elbow guy, so my day-to-day job is fixing rotator cuffs and doing shoulder replacements," Hammond said. "It's a great opportunity to get some reps in and to be able to refresh ourselves on things we have been trained in but haven't been exposed to in a while."
With readiness being the hot topic, Hammond is confident that the CESC will be a vital factor in combat extremity trauma training.
"I think this course has the potential to become essentially the backbone for the surgical readiness piece for the forward deployed aspect of training," Hammond said. "With us having this Bio-Skills Center and being able to put on courses like this, we have the opportunity to really make this a hub for extremity trauma training."
As the U.S. Navy's oldest, continuously-operating military hospital since 1830, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth proudly serves past and present military members and their families. The nationally-acclaimed, state-of-the-art medical center, along with the area's 10 branch health and TRICARE Prime Clinics, provide care for the Hampton Roads area. The medical center also supports premier research and teaching programs designed to prepare new doctors, nurses and hospital corpsman for future roles in healing and wellness.