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Cmdr. Shelley Perkins, a surgeon at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa and an instructor demonstrates a technique during the two-day course.

Cmdr. Shelley Perkins, a surgeon at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa and an instructor demonstrates a technique during the two-day course. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

Cmdr. Shelley Perkins, a surgeon at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa and an instructor demonstrates a technique during the two-day course.

Cmdr. Shelley Perkins, a surgeon at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa and an instructor demonstrates a technique during the two-day course. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

Perkins, second from right, shows students a technique Sunday during the two-day course.

Perkins, second from right, shows students a technique Sunday during the two-day course. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

Col. Walter Cayce with 36th Medical Group from Anderson Air Force Base on Guam practices an emergency vascular access technique on a dummy.

Col. Walter Cayce with 36th Medical Group from Anderson Air Force Base on Guam practices an emergency vascular access technique on a dummy. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

Lt. Cmdr. Joel Schofer, an instructor, shows Cayce, where to search for emergency vascular access.

Lt. Cmdr. Joel Schofer, an instructor, shows Cayce, where to search for emergency vascular access. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

Lt. Jerome Cerdan, a dentist at the Evans Clinic on Camp Foster, Okinawa, attempts the correct technique for putting a tube through the mouth, voice box and windpipe of a dummy Sunday during the two-day Advanced Trauma Life Support course on Camp Lester.

Lt. Jerome Cerdan, a dentist at the Evans Clinic on Camp Foster, Okinawa, attempts the correct technique for putting a tube through the mouth, voice box and windpipe of a dummy Sunday during the two-day Advanced Trauma Life Support course on Camp Lester. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

CAMP LESTER, Okinawa — U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa has taken the first step in building its own cadre of advanced trauma life support experts, said a medical expert Sunday.

Dr. John H. Armstrong, a physician at the University of Florida, traveled to Okinawa to oversee two advanced trauma life support courses and the first ATLS instructor course to be taught on Okinawa.

“Surgeons typically use trauma skills,” Armstrong said. “However, a lot of trauma care is done in the emergency room or on the front line in Iraq by physicians who are not surgeons.”

They were the ones targeted for last week’s training, he said.

The two-day ATLS course focused on the skills needed to initially evaluate and manage trauma patients, such as quickly identifying life-threatening issues, Armstrong said.

With the ongoing war on terrorism, it’s easy to see these skills are essential, he said.

“Anyone attached to a Marine unit will deploy to Iraq,” said Lt. Melanie Wilcox, a Navy dentist with 3rd Dental Battalion. “Even as a dentist, we have to deal with trauma, as we could be expected to do triage” when deployed to a war zone.

But ATLS knowledge can be put to use closer to home as well, Armstrong said, citing recent cases when accidents occurring close to the same time resulted in several critically injured servicemembers.

ATLS standards are set forth by the American College of Surgeons’ Committee on Trauma, and those who meet the standards receive validation cards.

Air Force Col. Walter Cayce, with the 36th Medical Group at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, has been through the course before and was here to update his card.

“I learn new things every time,” Cayce said. “This is the best supplemental-skills training in medicine.”

Armstrong added that using this training, instead of a homegrown program, ensures “everyone (has) a common language when working with acutely injured patients.”

But the real boon for trauma training here was the day-and- a-half-long instructor course, taught Thursday and Friday to seven physicians, Armstrong said.

The instructor course “is critically important because you now have a group of experts locally who can fuel the trauma program” and pass their skills to others in this region, Armstrong said.

And that’s the plan, he added.

Instructors from this course already are scheduled to teach two ATLS courses at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam at the end of June, he said.

The naval hospital at Yokosuka Naval Base has been conducting this training since 2004, but it, like the hospital here, had to borrow the necessary simulators, Armstrong said.

The two hospitals are teaming up to purchase simulators to keep the training in the region, which in the long run will be cheaper than flying to doctors to the States for training, he said.

“This training will be a medical force multiplier,” he said.

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