By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class, Dylan McKay, USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) Public Affairs
The crew of U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) successfully completed their Fleet Support Operations-Medical (FSO-M) assessments conducted Feb 20-March 26.
Dental Officer Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Gittleman said the FSO-M certification is a very necessary assessment, which entails the observation and grading of the crew’s response to simulated medical emergencies.
“FSO-M is designed to train the entire crew in emergency medical response procedures to ensure survivability in the event of an actual medical emergency,” said Gittleman. “I was thoroughly impressed with the crew's demonstrated ability during the dozens of drills and assessments conducted throughout this certification.”
The first two phases of FSO-M required the ship’s crew to undergo rigorous training. Basic First Aid training was supplied during various medical situations that entailed surprise simulated casualties the crew had to respond to, while the Medical Training Team observed and assisted.
Phases 1.3 and 1.4 required the crew to perform these same drills, while the Afloat Training Group (ATG) assessed their performance. Additionally, ATG evaluated the ship’s stretcher bearers by assessing their knowledge of Battle Dressing Station Operations, Patient Transport, and Mass Casualty situations.
“Our Stretcher Bearers were highly motivated during their graded evolutions,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Amanda Eakin. “They not only met the passing requirements, but they obtained perfect scores across-the-board.”
Finding the time to give the crew the training they needed to pass inspection proved to be a difficult challenge to overcome. Conflicting schedules and normal operations were some of the biggest obstacles the crew faced.
“There were a number of challenges associated with this inspection, but the most challenging was de-confliction of schedules,” said Gittleman. “FSO-M is a warfare area that requires participation from the entire crew through classroom training, level of knowledge (LOK) exams, hands-on learning, and live-action drills happening simultaneously with the daily business of operating a warship.”
According to Gittleman, while the Medical division was confident that the ship would pass its inspection, they were very impressed by just how well the crew performed their duties.
“Our medical team is very pleased with the crew’s performance during the certification,” said Gittleman. “They were able to put the countless hours of simulations and training into practice and scored 98% across the board. I have the utmost confidence in the event of an actual medical emergency that the crew will be able to perform the appropriate emergency care and give the casualty the greatest chance of survival.”
Blue Ridge commissioned Nov. 14, 1970, making it the oldest operational ship in the Navy. After 47 years in service, 7th Fleet Flagship is scheduled to stay in active service for another 20-plus years.
As command ship for U.S. Seventh Fleet, Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to the Yokosuka, Japan, area of responsibility for 38 years, patrolling and fostering relationships within the Indo-Asia Pacific Region.
For more news from USS Blue Ridge, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lcc19/