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Tent Hospitals Bring Medicine to Battlefields

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FORT BRAGG — Emergency surgeons at Fort Bragg are normally in a trauma room in Womack Army Hospital. They worked in tents Tuesday, testing their skills for war.

The Surgical Team concept was started during Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1989. Just like the surgical room at Womack, the tent hospital continues to be upgraded as technology advances.

Members of the 274th Forward Surgical Team can set up a tent in less than an hour, saving patients' lives on the battlefield.

"I'm in a combat unit. They're going to be right up there with us," says Pvt. Matthew Reddish. "It makes me feel better, knowing they can do this type of surgery."

A 20-member team performed hernia operations Tuesday, getting firsthand training in a tent. Every piece of equipment, as well as the staff, can parachute into a war zone with an infantry.

Technology has come a long way.

"When we jump, in we have the capabilities of doing more surgeries with technology," says emergency nurse Capt. Donald Kimbler. "We have ventilators, before they never had ventilators."

During the Vietnam War, soldiers were treated by a surgeon and some medics in a first-aid station often far away from the front lines. Many of the stations, did not even have electricity.

Today, there is not only electricity, but also heat, ways to sterilize instruments and machinery found in any operating room.

"We are better to be able to more accurately monitor their blood pressure, know much how oxygen they have in their blood and how awake the patient is during the surgery," says head nurse Capt. Craig Budinich.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
Brian Shrader, Web Editor

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