Navy Medicine Conducts ERSS Proficiency Training

US Navy | 2022-09-12

By Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Seelbach, Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet Public Affairs

NORFOLK, VA.: Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP) surgical teams conducted an Expeditionary Resuscitative Surgical Systems (ERSS) training exercise aboard the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship, USS Tortuga (LSD-46) during Task Force Atlas, Sept. 6-9. ERSS provides damage control surgery, emergency surgery and advanced trauma surgery, at the closest point-of-injury either afloat, undersea or ashore during combat or contingency operations with minimal personnel.

Expeditionary Resuscitative Surgical System (ERSS) surgeons and hospital corpsman assigned to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth perform emergency surgery and advanced trauma care on mannequins during a realistic test-of-concept aboard the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship, USS Tortuga (LSD-46), Sept. 7, 2022. ERSS is designed to provide advanced medical capabilities at the closest point-of-injury, either afloat, undersea or ashore during combat or contingency operations in a distributed maritime environment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan Seelbach)

The intent and the design of ERSS is to be self-sustaining. We bring all of our own equipment and only requirement from those we augment is power, a space to work in, a water supply and lighting,” said Cmdr. Joseph Fitzpatrick, a surgeon assigned to NMCP and the ERSS team. “We bring our own supplies, litters, and medications. We can do all of this with 7 personnel; a surgeon, an anesthesia provider, an emergency room physician, two nurses and two hospital corpsman.”

Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Sean Miles, the primary subject matter expert (SME) on ERSS, said ERSS can be effective in any war-time scenario, even working with partners and allies in a NATO environment.

“NATO has terminology to describe the different echelons of care a person will go through to receive treatment. In the U.S. Navy, on the surface side, our Role 2 capabilities that we have is on our large amphibious ships. These ships were designed with an operating room, resources and personnel to be able to surgically resuscitate someone and sustain them on board,” said Miles.

ERSS provides Role 2 care in a highly mobile way and is referred to as Role 2 Light Maneuver (R2LM). In a distributed maritime operation, where ships are not in a traditional strike group or amphibious readiness group, ERSS significantly enhances flexibility and mobility for expeditionary operations. When employed on a platform, with their initial load out of equipment, ERSS can accommodate three critical patients and five non-critical patients.

The Navy Bureau of Medicine (BUMED) builds, maintains, trains and equips a diverse range of medical units capable of maneuvering and integrating with the fleet and fleet marine force in a “Fight Now” posture.

Capt. Reggie Ewing, U.S. Fleet Forces command fleet surgeon, said that the capabilities of the ERSS directly align with BUMED and the Navy surgeon general’s priorities.

“The surgeon general’s priorities of people, platforms, performance and power are in direct support this concept of distributed maritime operations and operating in a contested maritime environment. Through utilization of these priorities, Navy medicine will increase lethality through increased survivability of our fighting force. If we can get
them back into the fight, then we can win the fight.”

U.S. 2nd Fleet serves as bridge between the United States’ east coast and Europe. Cmdr. Rommel Flores, medical planner for U.S. 2nd Fleet, explains how this particular capability will help ships and NATO partners and allies throughout the 2nd Fleet area of operation.

“As the Atlantic, arctic and high north are contested maritime environments, an area 2nd Fleet shares with 6th Fleet, this damage control surgical team will assure our Sailors and Marines that 2nd Fleet will maximize their health and safety as they perform their mission when embarked on any ship,” said Flores. “This ERSS training onboard the USS Tortuga is aligned with 2nd Fleet’s objective of preparing forces to deter and defeat potential adversaries. As we continue to grow this medical capability and integrate with our partner nations, as seen while operating with the Royal Canadian Navy during OP NANOOK, we are introducing different and challenging medical scenarios that stress the system, exposing gaps and seams that we have not observed before,” said Flores.

As the SME, Master Chief Miles has seen these teams operate first-hand and added, “If we have the ability to add a resource that can save a life we should be able to apply that.”

U.S. 2nd Fleet, reestablished in 2018 in response to the changing global security environment, develops and employs maritime forces ready to fight across multiple domains in the Atlantic and Arctic in order to ensure access, deter aggression and defend U.S., allied, and partner interests.