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U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC)

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Mass Casualty Drill 2022

by USS Gerald R. Ford Public Affairs
25 March 2022

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Sailors assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) participate in a simulated mass casualty training event, March 17, 2022. Ford is in port at Naval Station Norfolk executing a tailored basic phase prior to the ship’s first operational deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nolan Pennington)
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220317-N-CO784-1068
Sailors assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) participate in a simulated mass casualty training event, March 17, 2022. Ford is in port at Naval Station Norfolk executing a tailored basic phase prior to the ship’s first operational deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nolan Pennington)
Photo By: Nolan Pennington
VIRIN: 220317-N-CO784-1068
The sounds of rapid bells followed by the repeated phrase “Mass Casualty, Mass Casualty, Mass Casualty on the Flight Deck” rings through the passageways of USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), March 17, 2022. Ford’s crew spring into action. Each Sailor has a different responsibility, but they have all the same goal – to save lives.

Fortunately for Ford this time it’s a training drill and not the real thing. During the event, a simulated failed aircraft landing has occurred on the flight deck, leading to a shipboard fire and multiple casualties. Major drills like these give Ford’s medical team and supporting Sailors the chance to prove themselves under pressure and to implement their training in a simulation of a real world scenario.

Doctors, nurses and corpsmen from Ford’s medical team are busy establishing triage stations and evaluating casualties. While crews of other Sailors set up walking blood banks for emergency transfusions and man Ford’s advance weapons elevators for patient transfer, all aspects of response require a lot of pre-planned coordination to be successful.

“There is a lot of coordination that goes into a mass casualty,” said Lt. Cmdr. Susan Murphy, from Modesto, California, Ford’s ship nurse. “As the medical training team leader, I build the (training) package according to the instruction, and then assign everybody their roles within the medical and dental department.”

The drill’s purpose is to evaluate Ford’s response to such emergencies. The ship’s medical team will evaluate, triage and treat a large number of wounds and possible injuries. It takes practice and repetition to manage the chaos that can be caused by medical emergencies. These drills allow the team to focus on the medical needs of injured Sailors and ultimately will help them to save lives.

“During this drill we are being graded on the success of the evolution and how it meets the criteria and how it aligns with our training,” said Murphy. “Through repeated training and drills we can adapt our integration with other teams in an effective manner and train to meet the mission requirements and meet the needs of our shipmates.”

Ford’s medical, weapons, engineering, security, air and safety all have responsibilities during these evolutions. They must coordinate everything from damage control such as fighting fires and securing hazardous spaces to medical emergencies that require triage and patient treatment.

“Our medical department knows how to save lives,” said Murphy. “We also have to know how all the other moving pieces coordinate so that we can be successful. Through training we can identify small things before they become big things, it’s our job to mitigate those issues to adapt and overcome.”

The ultimate goal is to evaluate and learn what it takes to be successful in the future and through continued planning, training and evaluation the crew’s responses to these events will become seamless and proficient.

Ford is scheduled to deploy later this year and with its primary mission being to launch and recover aircraft, there is always the possibility for a mass casualty. Coordinated training exercises, such as mass casualty drills, can better prepare the crew for these situations and allow for continued mission success.


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