CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Corpsmen are charged with providing critical medical care to patients in life threatening situations during transport to higher echelons of medical care. To ensure the best medical care possible, they have identified the need for a better life support system.
Sailors with 1st Medical Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, trained for the first time with the new Portable Patient Transport Life Support System aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 25, 2014.
PPTLSS was designed as a lightweight, mobile replacement for the current, bulky, life-support systems used for serious injuries. More than 200 pounds together, older systems include the ventilator, physiological monitor, suction device, oxygen tanks and a platform to mount the equipment and secure it to the litter. With the PPTLSS a single person can carry the 55 pound system.
“It totally revolutionizes the whole concept of patient transport,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole Mattera, an en-route care corpsman with Bravo Surgical Company, 1st Medical Bn. “The old system, the [Special Medical Emergency Evacuation Device], was only built to carry the same supplies we usually use, but it was considered bulky, inconvenient and sometimes a little bit tricky. This new system is an all in one machine.”
The system provides highly efficient components Navy personnel need to evacuate wounded Marines and sailors from the battlefield.
The training, coordinated by the Combat Support Systems Program Management Office of Marine Corps Systems Command, has undergone more than seven years of testing, said Mattera, of Chicago. The durability and the way it handles in-flight were tested to ensure it meets the needs of medical teams in deployed environments.
“It’s going to, mainly, help the patient,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher McNaloy, a Corpsman with Bravo Surgical Co., 1st Medical Bn. “It can reduce times for oxygen delivery. To hook up a patient the old way took too much time, too many cords and too many things could go wrong. This could cause confusion and loss of time, which equals loss of life down the line. So I think it benefits us, and the patient, by helping us get that patient to the next echelon of care as soon as possible.”
The first day of training consisted of classes about the components and operation of the equipment, while the second day covered the upkeep and maintenance of the equipment.
Users say the PPTLSS is easier to use and move during the most crucial times for a casualty after receiving a serious injury. It can easily be transferred from the ground, to a vehicle, to an aircraft and provide monitoring and support for several hours. Another crucial aspect is its ability to produce its own oxygen.
“The best feature I find for the new system is the fact that it produces its own oxygen,” said Mattera. “We do have our own, but they are four feet tall, they take time to transport and you can’t carry it with you. With this system you don’t have to worry about carrying 12 bottles of oxygen with you and can reduce the number to four in the chance of a PPTLSS malfunction. The system alone can develop enough oxygen to keep that person alive for as long as necessary.”
The corpsmen working with the system agree it is going to help the future of medical care in the military.
“I’m really excited to be able to use the system,” added Mattera. “I can already see how effective it can be. I see it making a complete change in regards to field medicine.”