Trauma Surgeon Rachael Callcut Participates in Fleet Week Disaster Training Aboard USS San Diego
Rachael A. Callcut, M.D., M.S.P.H., a trauma surgeon at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, recently participated in Fleet Week disaster training aboard the USS San Diego with other medical professionals.
Dr. Susan Ehrlich, Chief Executive Officer of Zuckerberg San Francisco General, described the exercise:
This October, there was also some serious work and training going on involving ZSFG and the US Navy's 3rd fleet from the USS San Diego. The ship's team spent a day touring ZSFG with members of our trauma,anesthesiology and ED teams. Then our team spent two days,including an overnight on the ship learning about how they run their trauma operat ions. This training was an effort to drill how the Navy would deploy to ZSFG in the event a large-scale disaster hit San Francisco.
An article in the San Francisco Examiner characterized the mock exercise as deploying the USS San Diego as an extension of hospital facilities for treating victims of a future catastrophic event, one perhaps even exceeding the Loma Prieta or Northridge earthquakes.
Navy doctors and Navy resources, according to city officials, could make the difference in saving lives.
So as San Francisco prepares for Fleet Week’s swooping jets, a trauma crew from Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital flew to the USS San Diego (LDP-22) to cross-train with Navy medical professionals. The exercise may be the first of its kind, according to Aram Bronston, a prehospital coordinator at the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management.
“No one ever figured out how our medical teams can work together,” Bronston excitedly told a crew of trauma personnel Sunday morning.
To practice the use of a Navy ship as a medical base of operations, Bronston assembled a crew: Rachael Callcut, a trauma surgeon at ZSFGH; Malina Singh, vice chief of emergency medicine at ZSFGH; Benn Lancman, an anesthesiologist at ZSFGH; and Craig Johnston, chief of California’s Disaster Medical Services Division.
Callcut, an Associate Professor in the UCSF Department of Surgery, Division of General Surgery, also treated victims of the 2013 Asiana crash at SFO. She told the Examiner that the Navy’s mock surgery would have played out nearly identically at ZSFGH, noting hospital personnel could benefit from lessons in logistics and hierarchy.
“Think of a large-scale earthquake,” Calcutt said. “You have 20 trauma surgeons” in the Bay Area, she estimated. “That’s the challenge we face.”
That staffing level is fine now, she said, but once trauma surgeons are burned out from several days of disaster care, they’ll need rest. At that point, the Navy could provide key replacement surgeons.