Uniformed Services University Students Learn Combat Casualty Care

OCTOBER 19, 2021 – The silence, thick with the August humidity of Maryland, suddenly breaks with screams, mock gunfire and fighting.

Five students from the military medical school rush through the trees to help. They stumble upon a crisis actor on the ground with an amputation, pretending to squirm in pain. The man wears a cut-out suit. Fake blood is everywhere.

An instructor watches, analyzes, offers information and questions their decisions. The pressure is strong and the teacher evaluates each choice of the students.

The Advanced Combat Medical Experience (ACME), a four-day medical internship at the Uniformed Health Sciences University (USU), is intense – and that’s the point.

The experience allows students to use what they have learned in the previous year at a series of different stations across an expanse of forest near the university. With actors wearing cropped suits that simulate human anatomy, students are able to perform realistic medical procedures on the “patient”.

ACME is the first of several field placements that medical school students participate in over the course of their four years of training as they become medical officers, each building on the last.

Course director Capt (Dr) Sherri Rudinsky, associate professor of military and emergency medicine at the USU, goes from post to post as students in teams of five rush to apply tourniquets and d ‘other rescue measures on actors and mannequins with model injuries.

“This is the culmination of their Combat Medical Skills course over the past 12 months, where they put everything in place as part of ‘tactical combat casualty care,’ says Rudinsky.

The concept behind the training is to ask what potentially fatal injuries a medical officer might see on the battlefield and what can be done to save lives.

Rudinsky says the field internship is also an opportunity for students to use their knowledge and skills to help them build confidence in what they have learned and gain experience using communication skills. and leadership in a small team.

According to Rudinsky, the instructors and professors involved in the ACME internship come from a multitude of different departments and specialties, but all have expertise in combat medical care. They include visiting military personnel with a wide range of operational experience, retired medical officers now practicing in the community, as well as active duty professors assigned to the USU and the National Capital Region.

“Students tend to like it because it’s the first time they’ve gotten hands-on experience caring for patients, even if they are sham patients,” says Rudinsky. “They like to go out and practice medicine rather than just reading about it and listening to lectures. “
A sophomore medical student, Air Force Lt. Grace Manno comes out of the forest with her team after completing one of the many internship encounters.

“I didn’t know what to expect when I walked in and had no idea what the surroundings would be like,” Manno says. “… It made a lot of sense once we got out. All the tactical moves that we had been practicing, and once we ran over to our patient – ours was a double amputee – and we sort of knew immediately, “let’s throw him tourniquets and stabilize him.”

Manno says being able to work as a team and use what they have learned in a hands-on exercise has been a great experience.

“I think the environment they create… is a bit more of a stressful setting for us to practice our skills – and just puts into perspective why we’re here and why we’re at USU,” Manno says. “A lot of what we do is like any regular medical school, but that’s the really cool aspect of being a USU student and being in military medicine.”

Ian Neligh story
Uniformed Services University

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