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Medics embrace new kit for commando operations

25 March 2021
Medics who support Royal Marines on operations around the world are adopting new technology to ensure treatment is faster and more advanced than ever.

The Commando Forward Surgical Group (CFSG) go wherever Royal Marines deploy, no matter how extreme the environment.

Their responsibility is to treat causalities in the field and, as part of Future Commando Force developments, the medics are using new tech and practices to provide the best support possible. 

With Royal Marines Commandos set to be more forward deployed around the world, the CFSG are tailoring their approach to be lighter and more agile, so they can keep up with fast-paced operations.

The group is made up of experienced practitioners who provide a Role 2 medical facility, which means they have limited hospital capability, plus resuscitation and surgical facilities. 

Under Future Commando Force development, they will restructure into a Role 2 Forward. This means they are able to deliver the same treatment but will carry less kit and bring fewer personnel to the front line, making it easier to move to where they are needed most.

This facility is fitted with the latest telemedicine technologies – kit designed for remote diagnosis and treatment of patients using telecommunications technology – and digital innovations to enhance their capability.  

Lieutenant Marc Dowling is the Royal Navy officer in charge of the CFSG and has overseen developments, which will see the use of Proximie telemedicine – which allows clinicians to virtually share skills during live surgical procedures using cameras.

They are also using ‘point-of-care ultrasound’, which means diagnosis can be made wherever the patient is being treated using portable ultrasound machines.

A WAT-01U2 high definition camera will be used to stream live imagery to clinical experts who can offer immediate input, enabling teams on the ground to better treat a casualty.

The Satcube – a satellite wifi system – carried by the CFSG means connection can be set up anywhere, even in remote locations. 

“We have been showcasing all the telemedicine advances as part of the Forward Surgical Team capability,” said Lt Dowling, during an event related to the recent Defence Review.

“Proximie allows reach back to UK surgical consultants for real time in-depth analysis and advice.

 “The CFSG can also be supported by remote radiologists who will use the ButterFly probe (a handheld wireless ultrasound) and a new point-of-care ultrasound.”

Using the technology to provide rapid analysis, the CFSG is also set-up to be streamlined. This enables an efficient through-flow of patients that means a greater number of casualties can get the right treatment as soon as possible.

Lt Dowling added: “When a patient arrives, the system flows in a 1-1-1 system; they arrive first at resuscitation, then go through to the Forward Surgical Team, and finalising at Intensive Treatment Unit.”

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