USS Saipan (LHA 2)

LHA MEDICAL FACILITIES

Although the LHA’s primary mission was to land Marines in an assault, its secondary mission was evacuation and disaster relief. Both missions required complete medical care and facilities, and both are provided aboard this class of amphibious ship.

Hundreds of tons of medical supplies and food stuffs could be carried In the cargo holds of the LHA and delivered to disaster victims within minutes of arrival on the scene. Fresh water and electricity could be provided from the ship’s engineering plant until domestic services are restored.

The LHA’s medical facilities could hospitalize up to 300 patients and provide dally out-patient treatment for hundreds of additional sick or Injured. Two thousand evacuees could be brought aboard by helo or landing craft and comfortably transported to safe areas. During the mass exodus from Cuba in 1980, for example, hundreds of Cuban refugees in poor condition from overexposure, exhaustion and illness from a difficult voyage in small leaky boats, were rescued and brought aboard USS SAIPAN. Here, they were given treatment the equal of most modern large hospitals In the U.S.

During the mass exodus from Cuba in 1980, for example, hundreds of Cuban refugees in poor condition from overexposure, exhaustion and illness from a difficult voyage in small leaky boats, were rescued and brought aboard USS SAIPAN. Here, they were given treatment the equal of most modern large hospitals In the U.S.

There were approximately 7,000 hospitals in the United States in the early 1980’s, and only 15% of them had facilities matching those aboard LHA-type Ships. This class of ship had two examining rooms, two X-ray rooms, four operating rooms, and an intensive care unit. A fully equipped clinical laboratory was available for blood analysis and a multitude of other functions.

Patients with burns, orthopedic problems and other injuries could be treated in the physical therapy room. This room contained a whirlpool bath and two smaller tubs for various kinds of treatment. There was an isolation unit used to quarantine those with contagious diseases, and protect those highly vulnerable to Infection, such as serious burn victims.

The LHA also had an exercise room containing weight and pully equipment which could be climate controlled to allow personnel to get used to operating locations having extremes in temperature–before the ship arrived In the area. When SAlPAN was deployed off Norway for winter landing exercises, Marines worked out in subzero temperatures in this room to acclimatize themselves.

During most deployments, the LHA carried one medical doctor, one dentist , nine hospital corpsmen, and five medical specialists. During a major rescue or landing operation, it could embark a team of 150 medical personnel. The entire system was managed by a Medical Service Corps officer, who, in most cases, would have a graduate degree in administration and a practical medical background.

When LHAs were confronted with many patients to treat in a short period of time, whether they suffered combat injuries or those brought about by a natural disaster, their medical staffs dealt with that challenge using a system called “Triage.” Triage, a French word meaning to separate in threes, was developed by the French Army during World War I to ensure that limited medical assistance was used in the most efficient manner.

In Triage, medical care is provided by priority and direct proportion to the severity and life-threatening nature of the injuries. More serious cases are seen and treated first. The fatally wounded were made as comfortable as possible but scarce medical resources were devoted to where they can do the most good. Triage has gained widespread acceptance as an important and efficient method of dealing with mass medical casualties.

 

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Works by Dr. Connors

Log Entries, are as varied as the person reliving them–interesting, exciting, provocative, stimulating, appealing, heartwarming, lively and entertaining–worth telling to a larger audience, sharing with others some unforgettable experiences and preserving precious memories for future generations.

Truckbusters From Dogpatch: the Combat Diary of the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing during the Korean War, 1950-1953. The incredible story of the men—pilots, ground crew and supporting elements—whose achievements and records during that bloody conflict not only made U.S. Air Force history, but helped the newly fledged military service gain the confidence and respect it now enjoys.

Baited Trap: the Ambush of Mission 1890. After more than fifty years, we know the riveting story — “…a story that has not been told, but should have been” (Graybeard Magazine) — of the Korean War’s most heroic–and costly, helicopter rescue mission. It took declassification of official records, extensive research, tracking down the scattered families of brave airmen, and use of the Freedom of Information Act, to piece together the story of what five incredibly determined Air Force and Navy pilots did that long June afternoon in the infamous “Iron Triangle.”

About Tracy Connors

Tracy D. Connors graduated from Jacksonville University (AA), University of Florida (BA), the University of Rhode Island (MA), and Capella University (Ph.D. with Distinction, human services management, 2013). Ph.D. (Honorary), Leadership Excellence, Jacksonville University, December, 2013. Designated a "Distinguished Dolphin" by Jacksonville University, Feb. 2, 2010.