Chinn to Navy League: Innovations key to medically ready force and ready medical force
Navy Rear Adm. Colin Chinn, the acting deputy director of the Defense Health Agency, talked about battlefield medicine innovations as Rear Adm. Stephen Pachuta, Medical Officer of the Marine Corps watched, during a combat survivability panel at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space exposition, April 5, 2017, at National Harbor just outside of Washington, D.C. Others on the panel (not pictured)included Navy Surgeon General Vice Adm. Forrest Faison; Rear Adm. Cathal O’Connor, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group THREE; and Rear Adm. Tina Davidson, director Medical Resources, Plans, and Policy at the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine.
The Defense Health Agency is the newest combat support agency in all of the Department of Defense, standing up just a few years ago. But this newbie serves a vital mission: providing a medically ready force and ready medical force to combatant commands in both peace and war. Innovations in medical care help make that possible.
“We work very closely with the services to ensure that our medical personnel are ready to deploy, and just as importantly, our forces are medically ready to go into harm’s way,” said Navy Rear Adm. Colin Chinn, the acting deputy director of the Defense Health Agency.
Chinn spoke during a combat survivability panel at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space exposition, April 5, 2017, at National Harbor just outside Washington, D.C. One discussion point during the session was that the survival rates of those injured during combat are the highest in the history of warfare due in part to developments in battlefield medicine that help warfighters survive and thrive after injury.
“We seek solutions to bridge medical capability gaps identified by the combatant commands and the services, and it cuts across the entire continuum of care,” Chinn told the group. The admiral also oversees his agency’s role in research and development efforts in military medicine. “It’s a collaborative effort with researchers within the DoD, industry, and academia. Our goal is to turn novel and innovative ideas into fielded products that will help … at the point of injury on the battlefield all the way to our major medical centers.”
Chinn cited work with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on the next generation of prosthetics that are controlled directly by the brain. Another area of research includes the use of wearable sensors that inform medics and doctors about troop fatigue or bleeding. New applications of old techniques once thought to be outdated, such as tourniquets, help improve combat casualty care. Chinn said 30 years ago as a young doctor in the military, he was told not to use tourniquets. Now, it can be one of the first measures taken to stop bleeding. Once new techniques or technologies are verified for efficacy, medical providers are trained to treat any injuries on the battlefield, he said.
All research and development keeps the warfighter in mind. “We want to make sure any of the products or knowledge we produce is of the highest standards of safety and efficacy,” said Chinn.
Chinn thanked his fellow panel members, Navy Surgeon General Vice Adm. Forrest Faison; Rear Adm. Cathal O’Connor, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group THREE; Rear Adm. Stephen Pachuta, Medical Officer of the Marine Corps; and Rear Adm. Tina Davidson, director Medical Resources, Plans, and Policy at the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine, for the issues they brought up that sparked more discussion and thought.
“For the last 15 years, we have had a significant amount of our [research and development] dollars go toward solving issues that have arisen,” said Chinn. “We are making great strides, and this panel is opening up some issues about future conflicts.”