Blanchfield Army Community Hospital
Fort Campbell, KY – Two Blanchfield Army Community Hospital Soldiers recently had the unique opportunity to take the advanced medical training they received in the Army and put their skills to use in a fast-paced Level 1 civilian trauma center as participants in the Army’s Strategic Medical Asset Readiness Training.
“SMART is a Military-Civilian training partnership developed by Army Medicine that gives highly-skilled Soldiers in medical career fields the opportunity to encounter high-acuity patients from diverse patient populations, that help to keep our Soldiers proficient in the skills the Army needs them to be able to do,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Santiago, Blanchfield’s senior enlisted advisor.
Blanchfield operating room specialist, Sgt. Masroor Ali and respiratory specialist Sgt. Travis Schmidt was among nine Soldiers selected Army-wide to participate in a SMART rotation last month at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
Traumatic car crashes, blunt force trauma, gunshot and stab wounds, serious burns, and traumatic brain injuries can produce the kinds of wounds, injuries, and illnesses that Soldiers could be required to treat during major combat operations in order to preserve the fighting strength explained Santiago.
According to its website, VUMC treats close to 8,000 acute traumas annually from throughout Tennessee and the Mid-South and receives more than 3,000 life flights per year from a 140-mile radius.
“We don’t see the same number of those sorts of injuries within our hospital. Sending our Soldiers to a Level 1 trauma center that does, allows our Soldiers to use the skills they are trained to do in order to remain proficient and ready should the Army need them,” Santiago said.
Each Soldier’s activities were based on an Individual Critical Task List. These ICTLs are established by the Army and identify the skills by military occupational specialty that every Soldier needs to practice in order to maintain combat readiness.
“Most of my time was in the OR doing what I do here every day but [VUMC’s Operating Room] is much more fast-paced with a high number of cases,” said Ali.
“At BACH I do [femur fracture] about once every six months, but at [VUMC] I did six cases of [femur fracture] in one day,” said Ali. “So I got to get those reps in and refresh that skill so if there is one here, I’ll be proficient to do it.”
Schmidt said he had a positive, similar experience during SMART.
“Many of the tasks that I got to perform daily at Vanderbilt, I might only see a handful of times at BACH. It was impactful and motivating for me. I really enjoyed my time at Vanderbilt,” said Schmidt. He was able to perform and assist with a number of procedures including oral intubations, nasal intubations, extubating, and ventilator management with much greater frequency due to the higher volume of trauma seen at the medical center.
During the program, Soldiers were paired with a qualified preceptor from the medical center. Ali said they followed a common training philosophy used in both the civilian and military medical field — see one, do one, teach one.
“Preceptors are the techs who already work there. Throughout every section there was a preceptor to teach us and make sure we were doing things right,” said Ali. “It was an awesome experience. I got to learn a lot of things that are critical to my ICTLs and MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) and outside of my MOS.”
SMART rotations last two to three weeks and are held at different civilian teaching hospitals throughout the year. Participants are selected based on key MOS readiness priorities within each of the Army’s Regional Health Commands.