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U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC)

USS Whidbey Island Takes Part in Mass Casualty Drill for Large Scale Exercise 2021

by Lt. j.g. Caroline Leya, SURFLANT Public Affairs
15 August 2021

NAVAL STATION NORFOLK (Aug. 14, 2021) –Members of Fleet Surgical Team 4 begin surgery on a simulated crash victim during a mass casualty drill aboard the dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), the lead ship of its class of the same name, in support of Large Scale Exercise (LSE) 2021. LSE 2021 demonstrates the Navy's ability to employ precise, lethal, and overwhelming force globally across three naval component commands, five numbered fleets, and 17 time zones. (U.S. Navy photo by Ens. Drew Hendricks)
SLIDESHOW | 4 images | WBI Mass Casualty Drill NAVAL STATION NORFOLK (Aug. 14, 2021) –Members of Fleet Surgical Team 4 begin surgery on a simulated crash victim during a mass casualty drill aboard the dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), the lead ship of its class of the same name, in support of Large Scale Exercise (LSE) 2021. LSE 2021 demonstrates the Navy's ability to employ precise, lethal, and overwhelming force globally across three naval component commands, five numbered fleets, and 17 time zones. (U.S. Navy photo by Ens. Drew Hendricks)
Sailors assigned to the dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) hosted a mass casualty drill as part of Large Scale Exercise (LSE) 2021 while pierside at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Aug. 14-15.

The drill, which started with a simulated helicopter crash and resulting casualties, took place in multiple locations aboard, including on the ship’s flight deck, boat deck, cardio gym and boat shop, where mass casualties were spread out to be treated. It involved a total of 80 Sailors from Whidbey Island and 10 personnel from Fleet Surgical Team 4.
 
Exceptional in that it was the first time that “Role 2 Light Maneuver” (R2LM) sets were utilized on a dock landing ship (LSD), the drill enabled participants to practice integrating the sets on a new platform. An LSD by itself has “Role 1” medical capabilities, meaning that only non-surgical treatment is possible aboard. Patients with injuries requiring surgical care would normally have to be transferred to a landing platform dock or amphibious assault ship, which typically accompany an LSD in an amphibious readiness group. However, with R2LM sets and modified medical staffing, the possibility for surgical intervention on an LSD is getting closer to becoming reality.
 
Command Task Force 80 surgeon, Capt. Robert Carpenter, spearheaded the drill packages and coordinated six total practice drills before the most recent iteration. He noted that the drill allowed for collection of essential data on how to integrate advanced medical capabilities on more platforms in the future.
 
“[The drill] will provide invaluable information to senior line leadership about R2LM capability and how it may be employed going forward,” he said.
Commander, Naval Medical Forces Atlantic, Rear Adm. Darin Via visited Whidbey Island to observe the drill. He emphasized that improved outcomes for patients was an end goal.

“Having [R2LM] capability aboard has been shown to improve survivability [of mass casualty patients]”, he said. “Getting the Expeditionary Resuscitative Surgical System [or ERSS, part of the R2LM set] on our platforms, even in distributed maritime operations, overall improves medical outcomes. LSE 2021 is an opportunity in which we can we can bring in the ERSS and start to test it in a simulated environment.”

Whidbey Island Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Kristel O’Cañas, related that being able to take part in LSE 2021 in such a meaningful way was a source of pride for the crew. She appreciated that the ship had a chance to be a focal point for research in the Navy medical community.
 
“It’s a great way for Whidbey Island to participate in LSE 2021 and it provides an opportunity to the medical field to fully integrate with ships and bring additional capabilities to a platform of this type,” she said.
 
Sailors who took part in simulation practice in the weeks before the main event were especially motivated to put their best foot forward and display their skills. Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Nneka Winn, one of the Sailors who participated in the drill, lauded her shipmates’ performance throughout, which was perfected after many repetitions.
 
“The ship came together as one to do the best we could to save every casualty,” she said. “The enthusiasm shown by all puts me at ease in case an event like this would ever happen. I know we are ready, willing, and able to roger up.”

Merging live and synthetic training so Sailors and Marines across the globe can exercise the same battle problem in real time, LSE 2021 is intended to test warfighting concepts like Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO), Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) and Logistics in a Contested Environment (LOCE) and is the first iteration of what will become a triennial exercise with plans for future iterations to include Allies and partners.
 
LSE 2021 is a Chief of Naval Operations-directed exercise led jointly by U.S. Fleet Forces Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and U.S. Naval Forces Europe alongside their Marine Corps counterparts, U.S. Marine Forces Pacific, U.S. Marine Forces Atlantic, and U.S. Marine Forces Europe.
 
For more information on LSE 2021, please visit: https://www.Navy.Mil/Resources/Blogs/Detail/Article/2711004/Large-Scale-Exercise/
 


 
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