The U.S. Naval Expeditionary Medical Training Institute (NEMTI) on Camp Pendleton, California, hosted Expeditionary Medical Facility (EMF) training as part of Pacific Blitz 2019 (PacBlitz19).
One of the key objectives in establishing the EMF as part of PacBlitz19 is to integrate various capabilities across several expeditionary stakeholders to include I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF), 3rd Fleet (C3F) and Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC).
Various units including NECC Pacific, Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, Naval Medical Center Balboa, Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 303 (CBMU-303), along with doctors, nurses, hospital corpsmen, Seabees and numerous support staff established the EMF to provide theater hospitalization to the I MEF and C3F Commanders.
Military doctrine supports an integrated health services support system to triage, treat, evacuate, and return soldiers and sailors to duty in the most time efficient manner. These services are known as Roles.
Role 1 care provides immediate first aid at the front line. Role 2 care consists of surgical resuscitation provided by highly mobile forward surgical teams that directly support combatant units in the field or at sea. In Role 3, which is what the EMF delivers, care is provided through combat support hospitals or hospital ships. These are large facilities that take time to become fully operational, but offer much more advanced medical, surgical and trauma care, similar to a civilian trauma center. Role 4 care is the first echelon at which definitive surgical management is provided outside the combat zone. Role 5 care is the final stage of evacuation to one of the major military centers in the United States where definitive stabilization, reconstruction, or amputation of the injured extremity is performed.
The EMF is a hospital designed for austere environments. It has full resuscitation and emergency stabilizing surgery, along with selected specialty care. It provides significant medical support capabilities and capacities to any joint force commander.
“The EMF is designed to be assembled and operational in 10 days,” said Capt. Teresa Allen, EMF Alpha commanding officer. “It is meant to be a self-sustaining medical facility.” Allen explained how the EMF came together at the beginning of PacBlitz19. “All the personnel involved are from the West Coast and we essentially had to have everyone come together to build the EMF as part of this integrated exercise,” said Allen.
Seabees assigned to CBMU-303 and sailors assigned to EMF-Alpha built the EMF from the ground up. They began by putting together the framing of the tents and finished by installing medical supplies and equipment. One of the main components of the CBMU-303 mission is to provide camp construction, base operating support and facilities maintenance for expeditionary medical facilities such as EMF-Alpha, to include the containment and distribution of power, water, and fuel.
The field hospital supporting PacBlitz19 is a modified EMF, with two ambulances, three operating room tables, 10 intensive care beds, and 40 ward beds along with a host of ancillary services to include pharmacy, laboratory services, radiology, dental, patient administration, information management and technology, and command and control capabilities. It has a range of surgical specialties and general dentistry, along with medical specialties and clinical support services to provide a host of similar functions that would be found at a large hospital in any city.
The primary mission of the EMF is to provide standardized, modular, flexible theater hospitalization in expeditionary environments. PacBlitz19 provides realistic, relevant training that replicates a distributed maritime environment, allowing for integration across the Marine Expeditionary Force and the Fleet. “An EMF has never been included previously in a military exercise. PacBlitz19 provides us the unique opportunity to assess the effectiveness of our EMF training and identify areas of improvement,” said Capt. Sharon House, officer in charge for Naval Expeditionary Medical Training Institute. “Additionally, it has given us the opportunity to integrate with forces and look at means to sustain training integration. Overall, it’s been a great collaborative experience.”