Paratrooper medics use new oxygen equipment
Army Sgt. Thomas Wachter, a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division demonstrates new oxygen generation equipment to employees from the United States Army Medical Material Agency during a joint training exercise at Fort Bragg. His unit is the first field medical unit to use the new oxygen generator Army wide. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Anthony Hewitt)
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — The U.S. Army and its agencies are known for seeking out new and innovative ideas that may enable the force to become more efficient and effective.
One such agency is U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency (USAMMA), specializing in the development of medical supplies and equipment.
Recently, a group of project managers and biomedical engineers from USAMMA visited Fort Bragg, engaging with paratroopers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division during a joint operational access exercise – Operation Panther Shield.
“In order for equipment to evolve and improve, we need to listen and understand what the Soldiers need first-hand,” said Army Maj. Torrence Beck, a deputy project manager for medical devices at USAMMA. “Whether it’s brand-new or been in use for years, the Soldier`s voice and experience is how we can become better.”
Paratrooper medics assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. recently became the primary operators of the brand new equipment. – an Oxygen Generation Field Portable (OGFP) tank, a 12lb oxygen machine that uses fresh, ambient air to produce pure oxygen.
“Right now there are only three OGFPs in distribution across the force,” said Beck. “[5-73rd CAV] has one and they are the very first medics to use the machine in a field training environment. So it was very important that we were able to speak and interact with this unit.”
5-73rd CAV integrated the new equipment into their medical training lanes during the 3rd BCT field training exercise and demonstrations for USAMMA personnel.
Paratroopers provided candid feedback when asked for their professional opinions and experiences about the device.
Army Sgt. Thomas Wachter, a paratrooper assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 5-73rd, 3rd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. says that the OGFP is portable and generates reoccurring oxygen, which is great, but it doesn’t push enough liters per minute. In a trauma situation you need a high flow of oxygen; generally 12 -15 liters per minute.
During his use of the device, the output of the machine measured three liters per minute.
The squadron’s medical staff were aware of USAMMA`s visit beforehand and prepared to share their feedback with the team. During the equipment training, they were ready to share their voice in hopes that they would be able to make a difference.
During the visit, the notepads were out, USAMMA personnel actively taking copious notes. The team intently watched and listened to the medic’s demonstrations.
Wachter says if you bring the oxygen saturation down and bring your liters per minute up, it would very effective and can be used all over the battlefield.
According to Beck, this is what USAMMA has plans to distribute Army-wide sometime within the next 18-24 months.
The medics suggested methods that can make the machine more effective right now.
“If you connect more than one [OGFP] unit together you may get a consistent flow of oxygen that will supplement a patient,” said Wachter. “The best situation we can suggest for immediate use is to connect more than one together and use during patient transportation while they’re stable.”
“This concept has its merits for right now, however, there is definitely great potential that can come from this,” said Wachter. “I’m more than confident that [USAMMA] will take our feedback into serious consideration in hopes for a more effective machine.”
“It was great meeting these folks not only for the new machine, but we were able to give them so many ideas and suggestions on lots of other equipment and they were very attentive about our ideas, that’s exciting.”
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