Exercise preps 212th CSH for missions
Stars and Stripes May 9, 2008
MIESAU, Germany — You might think the soldiers are working in a permanent hospital.
But they are actually inside a honeycomb of tents, about 100 soldiers from the 212th Combat Support Hospital participating in a seven-day field training exercise that began Sunday.
The unit is capable of fielding a 248-bed hospital, but for the exercise, it is going with a smaller footprint, using about half its soldiers and 16 hospital beds.
The flexible unit and modular capabilities allow the hospital to be configured a variety of ways, depending on mission requirements, said Army Capt. Grace Chung, 212th adjutant. Recently, the 212th CSH (pronounced “cash”) sent a small contingent to support President Bush’s February trip to Africa, and this summer, it will have small teams in Romania and Bulgaria.
On Thursday, the field hospital was replete with an operating room, a pharmacy and a laboratory.
With the laboratory, the hospital workers can perform chemistry analysis on samples.
“If there’s a trauma patient, chemistry will help identify if this guy may be bleeding internally,” said Sgt. Garrett Roberson, 212th CSH laboratory noncommissioned officer-in-charge.
The lab can also perform rapid malaria or HIV tests if they deploy to an area where such a threat exists.
Doctors performed 10 minor surgeries on Wednesday and had three scheduled for Thursday, including hand surgery on a patient suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.
After a few minutes inside the operating room with its walls, floors, ceiling and standard surgical lights, it’s easy to forget it’s in a field hospital. The operating room is capable of handling two surgeries at the same time, said Capt. Charlene Wilson, an operating room nurse.
“We function very well as a team,” she said.
On Friday, the soldiers will experience a mass casualty event, simulating a measles outbreak. Staff will have to triage patients, according to their status. The hospital will also respond to a simulated nuclear, biological or chemical attack the same day.
“We’re trying to make it as realistic as possible,” Chung said.
In 2005, weeks after returning from a medical exercise in the southwestern African nation of Angola, the unit — then known as the 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital — deployed to Pakistan to care for victims of an October earthquake.
The unit, which was the last MASH in the Army, converted to a combat support hospital in 2006.