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Health and Medicine

UNC Health, U.S. Army establish trauma training partnership

The goal is to help military surgeons and other care providers better prepare to treat traumatic injuries, such as gunshot wounds, burns and more, and ultimately save lives.

Adam Fisk and Xavier Robbins in a medical office.
Adam Fisk of UNC Health (right) and Xavier Robbins from the US Army training at UNC Medical Center.

UNC Health is proud to announce a new partnership with the U.S. Army that will allow military medical personnel to receive trauma training at UNC Medical Center.

The goal is to help military surgeons and other care providers better prepare to treat traumatic injuries, such as gunshot wounds, burns and more, and ultimately save lives.

UNC Medical Center and the UNC School of Medicine providers will train the U.S. Army’s Forward Resuscitation Surgical Teams and other medical personnel from U.S. Army Forces Command assigned to the 44th Medical Brigade, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. As a busy, nationally recognized Level I Trauma Center and Burn Center, UNC Medical Center will help military personnel learn from real-world experience, with trauma surgeons and other providers helping educate them on best practices, the importance of clear communications and fast decision making, and more. They will get experience in UNC Medical Center’s emergency department, operating rooms and ICUs.

This novel military-civilian partnership will focus on training multidisciplinary medical personnel: physicians, nurses, EMTs and others. Military and civilian health providers will work together to enhance patient care through mutual training, sharing best practices and innovation between two renowned military and civilian healthcare entities.

“This type of life-saving preparation is critically important, and we are honored to help support the men and women of our military,” said Dr. Wesley Burks, CEO of UNC Health. “As these providers move forward to conduct America’s missions I am confident the training they will receive here at UNC Health and UNC School of Medicine will enable them to provide outstanding care to fellow soldiers. This designation reflects the dedication and talent of our physicians and our co-workers, and reinforces the important role we play in helping train our state’s and nation’s future providers.”

The Army Medical Department Medical Skills Sustainment Program provides opportunities for Army medical personnel to work in busy Level 1 trauma centers alongside their civilian counterparts to care for patients who have suffered severe trauma or are critically ill.

“The military generally cares for a young healthy population, so we don’t see a lot of trauma in our Army hospitals,” said Maj. Gen. Telita Crosland, Deputy Surgeon General. “The opportunity to maintain a high degree of skills proficiency in trauma and critical care is essential.”

Military-civilian partnerships are a critical part of ensuring the readiness of the nation’s military medical force to save lives on the battlefield in times of war. The agreement between UNC Health and Army Medicine has the potential to impact far beyond improved battlefield trauma care. By working and training together there will be a sharing of expertise and experience that will improve trauma care for both military service members and civilians. It also provides the opportunity to strengthen and improve both health systems. The collaboration is a foundation of preparedness for response to national disasters and crises such as the ongoing COVID pandemic.

Under the Medical Skills Sustainment Program, a portion of the Forward Resuscitation Surgical Teams will work full-time at UNC Medical Center while others will rotate to the hospital on a periodic basis. In addition to their clinical duties, Forward Resuscitation Surgical Teams personnel will participate in military training exercises and other unit-based training at Fort Bragg to maintain unit readiness as they prepare for deployment. Additionally, other Army medical personnel assigned to Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg will rotate to UNC Medical Center for trauma sustainment training and provide surgical and other trauma care alongside their UNC counterparts while supporting training for other military and civilian healthcare providers.

Eventually, there are plans to establish the UNC Trauma Military Education Immersion Center, or MEDIC, at UNC Medical Center. Dr. Daryhl Johnson is medical director of the UNC Trauma Program and will help lead the military-civilian partnership at UNC Health.

“We expect our partnership will be a model for similar initiatives across the country,” Johnson said. “We are proud to provide a place to train our military medical providers while learning from them, and helping build a solid future for our nation’s military readiness.”