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Mobile Trauma Bay workers honored

By Jason M. Webb | | May 6, 2010

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Civilian-Marines and military service members were honored Friday at Maintenance Center Albany at a ceremony to thank those responsible for the Mobile Trauma Bay concept.

The ceremony recognized the engineers and craftsmen who designed and fabricated the forward-deployed combat medical equipment and made them plank owners in the MTB.

A plank owner is a naval term for an individual who is present at a ship’s commissioning. Since the MTB was created at MCA those directly involved with creating it were given plank ownership.

During the ceremony, in front of hundreds of MCA workers, Col. Terry W. Reid, commander, MCA, thanked all those who took part in the creation of the MTB since it started last June.

“The Mobile Trauma Bay allows us to move forward to support our Marines on the battlefield so that they can have immediate care,” Reid said. “Within 78 days, the first Mobile Trauma Bay was rolling off the line. Six days later the second was ready to ship off to Afghanistan. Since then we have completed nine Mobile Trauma Bays.”

The Mobile Trauma Bay enables personnel in theater to provide emergency trauma care through task-organized tactical trauma teams with a means of force protection and environmental control. A wounded Marine’s chance of survival is increased exponentially if they reach medical care within the first 60 minutes of the injury, which is commonly referred to as the “golden hour.”

Taking part in the ceremony was Navy Cmdr. James L. Hancock, who is a Navy surgeon and director of medical services at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune.

He deployed with Marines in 2008 to Afghanistan where he first envisioned what was then termed “Doc-in-a-box.” He and his corpsmen mounted a steel container box on the back of a flatbed truck and outfitted it with a mobile operating room.

Hancock briefed the commandant of the Marine Corps about his idea to save Marines’ lives after the concept proved to be a success.

After the briefing he received a phone call from then-Maj. Gen. Willie J. Williams, commanding general, Marine Corps Logistics Command, to refine his concept so that MCA workers could begin reproducing a better version of his first MTB concept.

“In 2008, I went to Afghanistan and the mission changed. The Taliban changed the stakes and Marines were dying on the battlefield,” Hancock said during his speech to workers. “It’s such a large area with the desert that we couldn’t get [Marines] to medical care promptly enough and they were dying of their wounds. We at Navy medicine have been expeditionary and have deployed with Marines since the beginning of the Marines.

“The way we have done that in the past was to set up tents as close as we could to provide that support. I did that, and the Taliban didn’t like my tents, and they shot rockets in and burned us down,” he said.

After the rocket attack, Hancock realized that he had to adapt his tactics to defeat the Taliban’s attacks but still provide care to wounded Marines.

From there the MTB concept began and by August 2009 the first MTB rolled off the line at MCA.

During Hancock’s speech, he likened the work performed at MCA as reminiscent of the space race in the 1960s.

“We haven’t seen this since the 60s. In the early 60s the president at that time, John F. Kennedy, challenged America to put a man on the moon,” Hancock said. “When you went to NASA: monaco"(National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in the 60s and asked the janitor what he was doing, he said he was working to put a man on the moon. That is you.”

MCA civilian-Marines have worked hard since the initial MTB was first produced and have shortened production time from 73 weeks to 16.

Hancock showed his appreciation for making his concept become reality by giving his heart-felt praise for their work.

“I stand before you humbled and proud. Thank you for saving the lives of my shipmates and fellow Marines,” Hancock said.


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