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U.S. Army and Vanderbilt University Medical Center formalize trauma training program

Mar. 26, 2021, 8:52 AM

Maj. Gen. Telita Crosland and C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, sign the agreement for VUMC to become an official site of the U.S. Army Military-Civilian Trauma Team Training.
Maj. Gen. Telita Crosland and C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, sign the agreement for VUMC to become an official site of the U.S. Army Military-Civilian Trauma Team Training. (photo by Susan Urmy)

by Matt Batcheldor

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is becoming an official site of the U.S. Army Military-Civilian Trauma Team Training (AMCT3), formalizing a longstanding relationship between the two entities that is built on a history of collaborative success.

The AMCT3 program delivers medical training opportunities to military medical personnel by assigning them to civilian trauma centers. VUMC is one of only a few civilian medical centers in the nation to now participate in such a program.

VUMC leadership and representatives from the U.S. Army Surgeon General’s Office formalized the agreement at a signing ceremony held at Vanderbilt on March 24.

“Today and together, we are ushering in a heightened level of military-civilian collaboration that will make both of our organizations stronger and better prepared,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer for VUMC. “Together, we will help ensure that Army medical personnel sustain proficiency in important trauma skills, critical care skills and overall readiness when called upon to provide care in a combat environment.”

After 20 years of continuous combat in support of the war on terrorism, the Army has learned multiple lessons about how to save soldiers’ lives and keep them in the fight, said Maj. Gen. Telita Crosland, U.S. Army Deputy Surgeon General and Deputy Commanding General (Operations). The Army is pursuing partnerships with leading trauma centers across the nation to better prepare military medical personnel to respond to trauma and critical care in combat settings.

Such personnel are well equipped to provide routine health care for soldiers and their families but have relatively little exposure to trauma and critical care. The Military Health System only operates one Level 1 trauma center, and officials saw the need to partner with leading Level 1 civilian trauma centers.

Representatives from the U.S. Army Surgeon General’s Office and VUMC pose for a group photo on the LifeFlight helipad.
Representatives from the U.S. Army Surgeon General’s Office and VUMC pose for a group photo on the LifeFlight helipad. (photo by Susan Urmy)

“As we drive toward continuing success on our battlefield, Army Medicine recognizes that partnerships such as the one we’re entering with Vanderbilt are critical to assuring that our people, our soldiers who are health care professionals, are clinically ready to win in any environment,” Crosland said. “Medicine is a team sport, and we’re grateful to team up with a phenomenal organization like Vanderbilt in order to make sure that our staff and our service members are trained and ready to deploy.”

The AMCT3 is designed to train the Army’s premier Forward Resuscitative Surgical Teams (FRSTs), which are comprised of surgeons, emergency medicine physicians, advanced practice nurses (including certified nurse anesthetists), registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, operating room technicians, combat medics and other related surgical sub-specialties.

Personnel assigned to the 772nd FRST at Fort Campbell will have the opportunity to work and train at VUMC on an enduring basis. Some of these personnel will live in the local area and be assigned to VUMC for up to three years, while others will rotate through on a recurring periodic basis. While primarily focusing on maintaining their individual medical skills while at VUMC, they will also have opportunities to work together as a trauma team at VUMC in caring for patients who have suffered from trauma or are critically ill. Additional training opportunities will be offered to enlisted medical personnel to train alongside their civilian counterparts on short-term rotations in a variety of clinical settings through the Strategic Medical Asset Readiness Training Program (SMART).

VUMC will also provide a platform for Army general surgeons working at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital to maintain skills in trauma resuscitation and damage control surgery and other critical skills. Additional opportunities to expand training of elite Special Operations units will also be explored.

“Beyond sustainment of critical medical skills, this partnership between VUMC and Army Medicine has the potential to impact far beyond improving lives on the battlefield,” said Alex Jahangir, MD, MMHC, medical director of the Vanderbilt Center for Trauma, Burn and Emergency Surgery. “By working and training together, there will be a sharing of expertise and experience that will not only improve care of both military service members and civilians, but also provide the opportunity to strengthen and improve both health systems and improve military-civilian collaboration that will serve as the foundation of the future preparedness for response in national disasters and crises, such as we’ve had with COVID.”

VUMC has historically supported the Army’s graduate medical education program through clinical fellowships and a variety of medical skills sustainment training to help prepare medical personnel for deployment, including rotations in trauma, burn, the emergency department and other critical care areas. The partnership with the Office of The Army Surgeon General takes the historical relationship between VUMC and the Army to the next level.

Growing research supports the importance of military and civilian partnerships for military surgeons to maintain complex trauma skills. Two such studies were published in Military Medicine in 2017. The studies compared the number and types of extremity injuries treated at civilian trauma centers and military treatment facilities and evaluated the viability of cross-training programs at civilian trauma centers to address current priorities for combat casualty care. Lt. Col. Daniel Stinner, MD, an assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at VUMC and an active-duty Army officer, was a co-author on both papers.

“I just can’t emphasize enough how excited we are to be a part of this new trauma training program to help sustain the skills of the soldiers charged with taking care of those who defend our country,” said Bradley Dennis, MD, associate professor of Surgery in the Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care, and chair of the Vanderbilt Military Affairs Committee.

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