Critical CarePrehospitalSMACCTraumaMilitary trauma lessons from MERT

Military trauma lessons for MERT by Claire Park

Claire Park delivers a riveting talk, bringing military trauma lessons from MERT (Medical Emergency Response Team) back home.

Claire tells two stories from her tours in Afghanistan.

The first begins in the early hours of the morning when the MERT team is tasked on a job. They receive word of five casualties including two above knee amputations and one unconscious without a radial pulse.

On arrival to the scene the paramedics leave the helicopter to triage and bring the casualties aboard to Claire and her team. They begin to take enemy fire.

The second experience was delivering care to an Afghan national soldier with a gunshot wound to the neck. He was alert when he came onboard the helicopter but quickly deteriorated.

Claire decided he need to be intubated. However, there was an expanding haematoma across his cricoid area with a deviated trachea.

An extremely difficult airway in an extremely difficult environment.

The lessons from her experiences as a part of the MERT? Do the basics well.

This means prioritising the problems as a team. The hinderance here is becoming too tasked focus. That is why Claire alongside her colleagues developed a time out.

With eyes up, they would ask themselves two questions. What have we got? What are our priorities?

She advises – trust your clinical decision making in the moment. Experienced clinicians will have “blink” moments – where they make unconscious conscious decisions. The importance is learning from them in the aftermath.

On that theme, Claire has experienced firsthand how different people remember events in vastly different ways. She calls them different black box recordings. This makes the debrief essential. Use it as an opportunity to learn from mistakes and errors.

Finally, Claire speaks about passion. Passion can eliminate fear. It can turn threats into challenges. Her thoughts are if you do not feel and do not care – you should not be doing the job.

Take these military trauma lessons from Claire’s time in MERT and use them to strive to do your best for your patients, every time.

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Claire Park