USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea – Sailors aboard amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) conducted a mass casualty drill to test emergency response capabilities, Sept. 3.
The drill was an all-hands effort designed to see how well medical personnel from Bonhomme Richard and the 31st MEU work together to respond to an emergency situation.
"When you talk about mass casualties, the idea is to see what level you're at to avoid becoming overwhelmed with the number of casualties," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Jacoby Flemming, who is attached to the 31st MEU. "It tests your capabilities so you know what you can do and what you can't in that type of situation."
The drill was conducted as a part of Amphibious Integration Training (AIT), which provides the initial opportunity for the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) to conduct operational maneuvering from sea to shore before supporting multilateral exercises, contingency operations, or humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.
The purpose of mass casualty training is to ensure that casualties are assessed, triaged and evacuated from the scene quickly and efficiently.
During the scenario there were between 30-60 casualties with varying degrees of injuries. Medical personnel quickly assessed the injured and evacuated them according to their triage category.
Triage categories range from red, which indicates the patient needs immediate medical care, to black, for those who will not likely survive. Medical personnel must decide quickly which patients to treat and how soon that treatment needs to be done.
"I think this drill is very important because in our minds we might know what to do but when we come together as a team, we have to make sure we are a well-oiled machine," said Cmdr. Roseanna Chandler, a nurse anesthetist. "We need to make sure that everybody is confident with performing their tasks."
The Navy's goal to maintain mission readiness includes training to ensure that Sailors and Marines are able to respond quickly and adapt to new situations.
"This drill helps train people so everyone is aware of what's going on especially since there are always new people coming in and out with the MEU and on the ship," said Flemming. "It gives them a chance to work together and communicate because we have so many different pieces to coordinate to accomplish the mission."
In addition to AIT, the ARG is also scheduled to participate in Certification Exercise and Amphibious Landing Exercise while on deployment on the Western Pacific.
Bonhomme Richard, commanded by Capt. Daniel Dusek, is the lead ship of the only forward-deployed ARG and is currently operating in the 7th Fleet Area of Operations.