Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marcus L. Stanley
EAST CHINA SEA – “There,” Chief Hospital Corpsman Banny Chavez says applying a finishing touch to the makeup on Fire Controlman 3rd Class Chelsea Wolsiefer’s face. Wolsiefer smiles and takes a quick selfie, which shows a face badly burnt with an eyeball dangling from its socket.
In minutes, the other Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) will see her new face.
Chavez asks Wolsiefer if she’s ready to go, she replies, “Let’s do it.”
A few seconds later a voice comes across the 1MC: “The ship is entering a medical training environment …” and Sailors aboard “Hawaii’s Destroyer” know they must be ready to administer first-aid because the ships medical training team (MTT) are out and about.
“It’s not to scare anyone,” said Chavez. “It’s all about saving lives. Being able to administer first-aid can be the defining reason if someone lives or dies.”
With the help of a few Sailors-turned-actors and a collection of makeup, fake skin and body parts, and other props collectively referred to by the MTT as “moulage,” Chung-Hoon’s MTT provides a mental and visual training experience designed to bring Sailors closer to the catastrophes that can happen to anyone in a shipboard environment.
“We try to make it as stressful and as realistic as possible,” said Chavez. “The actors do a great job at pretending they’re really hurt; and the moulage makes the wounds look very real, which surprises most Sailors and I believe makes them respond faster.”
As gruesome and graphic as third-degree burns, protruding bones and detached eyeballs are, they are the types of injuries seen in combat.
“One of our objectives is to make sure every Sailor on the ship never comes across something they’ve never seen in training,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Christopher Thomas, an MTT member. “If they do, we have failed them because their knowledge and training in first-aid may be all they have at the time they’re called on to save someone’s life.”
Though the Sailors are on alert when the ship is placed in a medical training team environment, Thomas believes this doesn’t remove the element of surprise.
“They never know where we’ll show up,” said Thomas. “Sometimes our actors are people who work in the same spaces with them, and they have no idea that person is working with us until they start screaming for help.”
Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, Chung-Hoon is operating as part of the John C. Stennis Strike Group and Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment.
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