Training medics to save lives in combat

USF Health will investigate how best to train combat medics to help save soldiers’ lives as part of a university consortium that has received a $5.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The new USF Health Center for Advanced Learning and Simulation, or CAMLS, will receive at least $750,000 over at least two years. This is the first grant that the CAMLS Tampa Bay Research and Innovation Center has received. USF’s part of the grant will be conducted at CAMLS.

“This grant is a milestone for USF Health,” said Dr. John Armstrong, medical director of CAMLS and principal investigator for the USF Health piece of the grant. “It emphasizes the collaborative spirit of CAMLS and recognizes USF’s commitment to making life better for those who serve our country in harms’ way.”

Dr. Armstrong will study how best to train combat medics in intubation, opening a surgical airway, releasing a tension pneumothorax, and placing a chest tube.

This work will help to save the lives of wounded soldiers on the battlefield,” he said.

Dr. Armstrong, associate professor of surgery and a practicing trauma surgeon, is a natural fit to work on this study of military medical training. He’s the former leader of the U.S. Army Trauma Training Center, based in Miami, a center that has become nationally known for its team training expertise.

The University of Missouri will lead the study on combat casualty care and has established the Combat Casualty Training Consortium. Other primary grant partners are USF, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, the University of Central Florida and Information Visualization and Innovative Research, a program and systems management firm in Florida.

Combat simulation scenario

US Army Reserve flight medics demonstrate their work on the Caesar simulator at a USF Health lecture earlier this year.

The grant will allow the consortium to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of existing trauma training methods, such as the use of advanced computerized mannequins. The group will then develop assessment tools and make recommendations to further the training, retention, and competence of medics in pre-hospital combat care settings.

“This competitive grant award represents a significant new initiative for the Department of Defense in military medical training research,” said Col. Karl Friedl, PhD, director of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center. “The elements of this consortium bring together the best of medical training and modern technologies in a convergence science effort that will enable more effective, agile, and affordable options to meet future training requirements.”

Slated to open next spring in downtown Tampa, the $30 million CAMLS project will help change how healthcare professionals learn, making cutting-edge medical technologies safer for patients. The 90,000 square-foot building will house high-tech robots and a state-of-the-art simulation center.

Leading USF faculty surgeons will train surgeons from around the country on how to perform robotic, computer-assisted, and image-guided surgeries. In the simulation center’s Virtual Hospital, doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers will train side-by-side, perfecting the teamwork and communication skills vital to top-quality medicine. Some 60,000 health professionals are expected to train at CAMLS each year.

DOD Grant, combat simulator, Dr. John Armstrong, USF Health CAMLS

Pictured are participants in the Combat Casualty Training Consortium, left to right: LTC Daniel Bruzzini, MD, MC, USAF (CSTARS St. Louis University); Jeffrey Kerby, MD, PhD (UAB); Steve Barnes, MD (MO); John Armstrong, MD (USF); and Alex Bukoski, DVM, PhD (MO).