It’s been a little over a year since Baltimore Psychiatrist, Dr. Bernard Fischer, was officially sworn in as a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserve, Medical Corps. In that time he’s gotten his uniform and ID card, attended drill weekends, and even completed his two week Officer Development Course in Newport, RI. Recently he was able to add another important milestone to his list of accomplishments; his first field exercise.
Although LCDR Fischer drills out of the Navy Reserve Center in Baltimore, his official unit is Expeditionary Medical Facility One (EMF 1) which is headquartered on Great Lakes, IL. The purpose of the EMF system is to be able to set up field hospitals in remote areas in the event of conflict or humanitarian crisis operations.
EMF 1 was one of many medical and Construction Battalion (Sea Bees) units that arrived to Cheatham Annex, in Williamsburg, VA last month to test a new Chemically Hardened Expeditionary Medical Facility. The facility is designed to allow forces to provide medical care in an environment containing chemical or biological agents.
As LCDR Fischer described it, ” We put up a “small” EMF (we had about 170 staff inside) and then tested the collective protection liner. The test was a 72 hr lock-down where we treated simulated casualties coming in through an airlock while SeaBees and contractors tested our air exchange and pressure.”
The unit was split up into two teams, one that was assigned for the construction an another assigned for the recovery of the facility. “Things went really well. Both the set-up and take down took significantly less time than was expected and the tests were all passed.”, he added.
While field exercises are always great experiences, LCDR Fischer is also looking forward to his next adventure, a voluntary deployment to the NATO Hospital in Khandahar, Afghanistan. He expects to leave in early 2014, but has already begun to prepare as much as possible.
“I spoke to the reserve specialty leader for psychiatry- he just got back from Role 3 last year- and he answered a lot of my questions. I’ll be doing brief therapy, med management, and triaging for evacuation to Germany. According to what I’ve heard, about 2/3 of the cases will come from the field and about 1/3 will be care for the care-giver (making sure all the trauma and surgical teams are okay considering what they see and have to deal with.) It will be hard to be away from the family, but I think it will be really rewarding for us all.” he said.
Read more about the EMF Exercise here.
Access an absolutely terrific series about Navy Medicine at NATO Role 3 Hospital in Khandahar, Afghanistan that was done by the Virginia Pilot by clicking on this link. Be advised the videos and photos are graphic.
Another recent article about the Hospital in Khandahar can be accessed here.