15 May 2012

Pennsylvania practitioner prepares for service with military trauma team: "A way to give back"

Patients of Pennsylvania internist Dr. Richard Lorraine are rescheduling their appointments for July. Lorraine, a Lt. Colonel in the PA Air National Guard who joined up after 9/11, will be flying between Germany and Maryland with a CCATT team on a 30 day deployment starting July 1.

Each injured soldier that arrives at the U.S. Army-run Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany will have already received some medial treatment from forward level medical facilities and theater hospitals, but Landstuhl is the third step in getting them home for top level medical care. Treatment the CCATT teams provide using equipment they call an allowance standard — essentially a mobile intensive care unit - is the next step and can be provided in flight by only a handful of military medical specialists.

“The equipment standards for a CCATT team consists of nine bags and three backpacks, each weighing 50 pounds, for a total of 550 pounds of equipment,” he said.

“The cost of the equipment is about $250,000 and with it, we are able to basically equal the care in any intensive care unit, but in the back of a C-17, KC-135 or C-130,” Lorraine said.

“Because of the high operations tempo of military activity in the past ten years, military medicine and trauma medicine has advanced tremendously. In previous conflicts, mortality rates were still running to 20 or 25 percent,” Lorraine said.

“At this point, if the patient survives to get into the air medical evacuation system, they have at least a 95 percent change of survival, which is the highest that has ever been achieved in any military conflict,” he said.

Advances learned in military trauma medicine over the past decade are working their way into general practice and save lives - with lifesaving consequences both in theater and back home.

Learning new skills and the latest in his field of internal medicine are part of the reason Lorraine has volunteered for the deployment — and the updated training may allow him to volunteer for more deployments in the future — but the pursuit of knowledge is not his only motivation.

There is also the feeling of giving back to one’s country — enlisting in the national guard after Sept. 11, as Lorraine puts it, “was really what prompted my decision to say ‘Here’s a way that I can give back, and a way that I can participate and give some of what I’ve gotten back to my country.’”

“It is an honor for me to be able to use my skills and knowledge to provide potentially life-saving medical care for the heroic men and women of our armed forces, who have put their lives on the line for the safety and security of our country,” he said.

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