The cutting edge: MEU Medical brings unique capability to Jordan training area

25 Jun 2013 | Cpl. Michael S. Lockett

The Marines and sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit often operate on the far edges of the world; in small countries that most Americans cannot even name or find on a map. Out here on the edge, the necessity for a rapid and effective medical establishment is critical for the mission and for the health of those involved. Marines and sailors cannot always rely on getting to a hospital in a timely matter if there is a life threatening injury. This is where the sailors and naval officers of Shock Trauma Platoon and the Expeditionary Resuscitative Surgery System come in.
This mobile medical facility is dedicated to stabilizing Marines or sailors who may receive life-threatening injuries out on the ranges during Exercise Eager Lion 2013. 
“It’s a concept developed during Iraq as a frontline resuscitative capability,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. James Epperly, emergency medical physician from Wilmington, N.C. “Anything we can do on land in an emergency room, we can do at STP. We’re a portable ER.”
The STP is capable of handling six critical cases at one time and is the intermediary between the point of injury and a higher echelon medical facility. Some victims may need to eventually be transferred to a permanent facility with the capacity for long term care, such as a local hospital. 
The ERSS is an expeditionary surgical suite dedicated to stabilizing life threatening injuries before transport to a higher echelon facility. Built initially to be transportable to any ship in the fleet, the ERSS has never been used in the field before Eager Lion 2013.
“This is the first time the ERSS has been used on the ground,” said Capt. John Love, naval medical officer and OIC of the ERSS from San Diego, Calif. “We tend to think in terms of an hour from the point of injury to surgical capability. With the location of the ranges relatively distant from local medical facilities, the ERSS was brought in for its first use as a groundside medical option to bridge that gap, giving Marines and sailors the best possible chance of survival.
The medical personnel of the STP and ERSS are also taking the opportunity to train with medics from the Jordanian and Bahraini militaries, focusing on teaching their medics how the Navy sets up an expeditionary medical facility and conducts business from one. The medical personnel will be training with each other for the duration of Eager Lion 2013.
Exercise Eager Lion 2013 is a recurring annual exercise designed to strengthen tactical proficiency in critical mission areas, support long-term relationships, and enhance regional security and stability by responding to modern-day security scenarios.