NEWS | July 25, 2019

Navy Hospital Yokosuka, Japanese Maritime Surgical Teams Participate in Exercise

By Erika Figueroa U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan -- The department of surgical services at U. S. Navy Hospital Yokosuka (USNHY) welcomed their counterparts from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Yokosuka Hospital April 17 to complete an interoperability evolution involving a simulated patient with a previously treated gunshot wound, which now required a hernia repair and scar revision.

“The primary goal of this exercise was to focus on a small team concept, working together in the surgical suite performing a general surgery case. The small group was able to overcome some of the early training obstacles with language and pre-operative preparation variances between the two teams. Whereas in past drills and training evolutions, the team was large and involved multiple surgical specialties and poly trauma” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Glenn Bradford, a perioperative nurse serving as director of surgical services at USNHY.

The evolution functioned as the cumulative result of a 10-month partnership between the two medical teams, the goal of which has been, and remains to be, according to Bradford, “functional cooperation between both entities.”

“Our efforts are to further the goal of interoperability between ourselves and our host nation,” Bradford said in explaining the need for such joint exercises. “It is essential that we understand our strengths and limitations when working jointly but, more importantly, strategies and tools to sustain the things we do well together and create methods to overcome the obstacles identified during simulated scenarios.”

Overcoming these obstacles during the past ten months has been an intentional effort between both USNHY and JMSDF surgical departments. The dedicated efforts to bridge the language barrier and incorporate the unique perspectives of each entity are represented by the success of previous joint exercises.

“This evolution utilized a newer, more efficient, structure centered around a small team concept that allowed for members of both surgical teams the opportunity to work closely and navigate their unique difficulties on a one-to-one basis that lent an air of camaraderie to their work. The new structure ensured, through joint efforts, interoperability could become a successful and meaningful means of streamlining and strengthening the cooperative process between USNHY and JMSDF,” Bradford said.

“The key to bringing both USNHY and JMSDF ideals to the point of feasible cooperation lies in preemptive preparation and ensuring readiness on the part of both parties. To steal a phrase from my time aboard the USNS Mercy,” Bradford said on the subject, “Prepare in calm to respond in crisis.”

During a recent luncheon with USNH Yokosuka and JMSDF leadership, it was determined that the next step will be another joint surgical evolution at JMSDF Hospital Yokosuka later this summer. Both teams have been tasked by their respective leaders, Capt. Drew Bigby, commanding officer of USNHY and Rear Adm. Tetsuji Tokunaga, Commander, JSDF Hospital, to evaluate how each medical team performs trauma care and begin identifying the similarities and differences as they arise in the surgical suite. It is the hope and distinct confidence of each command that their dedicated efforts will result in further opportunities for growth and cooperation.

“The mindset of preparedness, dedication, and international cooperation has rung true in every step of the efforts of dozens of medical professionals from Naval Hospital Yokosuka and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Hospital Yokosuka,” Bradford said.