By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Coffer
A Role 2 Light Maneuver (R2LM) team is currently aboard the Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4), offering advanced trauma and life support capabilities while underway in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations, March 18, 2021.
The seven-person R2LM team is made up of a General Surgeon, an Emergency Medicine Physician, and Anesthesiologist, two nurses and two corpsmen and was assembled from Navy medical centers worldwide. The team is capable of providing aide anywhere in the world, land and sea.
“The R2LM is a small, highly mobile team designed to perform damage control resuscitation and damage control surgery as far forward as is practical to extend survivability of severe injuries,” said the officer in charge, Cmdr. Joseph Fitzpatrick, a general surgeon. “The team is trained to set up care nearly anywhere, from ship to shore.”
The team will soon be departing for U.S. Naval Hospital (USNH) Naples, Italy for sustainment training in the hospital’s new simulation center while the USS Hershel Williams is in port.
As part of the military health system transformation, USNH Naples not only delivers healthcare, but also serves as a training platform through its co-located, interdependent Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC). The R2LM team will work under both divisions while it is in Naples.
“Fortunately, many of today’s surgical deployments see little ‘action,’ this is great for the service members we support, but ultimately detrimental to the perishable skills the medical teams possess,” said Cmdr. Fitzpatrick. “Any available training during this timeframe is invaluable to keep these skills as fresh as possible. Having sites readily available overseas, in close proximity to the forward teams, makes obtaining this training while deployed more realistic.”
Having a break in the middle of a deployment to conduct training is a rare blessing for the medical team and to train with a new medical simulation center will only better serve to keep their skills sharpened.
“Not all R2LM teams will have a break period in which they will be able to leave their mission and conduct sustainment training at an overseas location,” said Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Chamberas, an emergency room nurse. “High-fidelity simulation facilitates more realistic clinical situations and allows us to actually use the equipment to perform treatment and procedures. The simulations can even include some manufactured stress, such as loud noises, which forces the team to be creative and perform under pressure.”
The training is mutually beneficial; NMRTC Naples, an ashore command co-located alongside USNH Naples, will directly support the Navy Surgeon General’s priorities of people, platforms, performance, and power through its support of the R2LM team training.
The R2LM team will complete one week of academic and practical exercises in the NMRTC Naples simulation center, with an emphasis on teamwork. The week will culminate with the R2LM team completing a 12-hour overnight prolonged field care session within the NMRTC Naples simulation center. After a weekend of rest, the team will then integrate with USNH Naples providers to see and treat patients.
“We anticipate that the R2LM team will teach us just as much as we train them,” says Capt. Michael Johnston, Director of Expeditionary Medicine at USNH Naples. “This opportunity truly validates the NMRTC concept as a source of medical readiness. Any time Navy medicine components can collaborate, our collective operational knowledge benefits.”
USNH Naples, the largest naval hospital in Europe, provides exceptional quality healthcare services and support to approximately 9,800 beneficiaries from 62 U.S. Navy tenant commands, the USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), and forces from the 22 nations that comprise the Allied Joint Forces Command, Naples, Italy.
Williams is currently deployed off the coast of Africa to demonstrate their growth in strategic partnerships and U.S. commitment to African countries through interoperability training, maritime security and safety to allow for freedom of navigation in the region. The ship’s rotational crew swap allows unlimited operations in the Africa area of responsibility.
USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4), homeported in Souda Bay, Greece, conducts U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) missions in the Mediterranean and the waters around East, South, and West Africa to include the southern Mediterranean, operating with regional partners. The ship supports security cooperation missions and operations in and around the African continent.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.