Readiness, trauma at heart of C-STARS Baltimore partnership

  • Published
  • By Shireen Bedi
  • Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs
(This story is part one of two in a series on medics embedded in the Baltimore Center for the Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills program.)

The Air Force Medical Service partners with civilian trauma centers to provide additional opportunities for Air Force medics to maintain readiness and clinical currency on skills needed during deployment.

One such partnership is with the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, Maryland, through the Center for the Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills (C-STARS). This program embeds Air Force providers in one of the nation’s highest volume trauma centers, training them on vital expeditionary medical skills.

The C-STARS program, which is part of the 711th Human Performance Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, demonstrates how civilian partnerships ensure the readiness of the medical fighting force. This is especially important for medical Airmen stationed at military treatment facilities with few trauma cases.

“By partnering with a hospital that only treats trauma patients, Air Force doctors, nurses, and medical technicians get the necessary exposure to trauma injures,” said Col. Joseph DuBose, C-STARS Baltimore director. “This helps them maintain the clinical currency needed to care for the warfighter downrange.”

C-STARS Baltimore instructors have had a strong relationship with the Baltimore STC for nearly 20 years. Relying on lectures, simulated training, and involvement in care of actual civilian victims of trauma, they train approximately 300 medical Airmen per year and they have trained more than 2,000 Airmen since 2011.

The Air Force instructors that make up the C-STARS Baltimore program bring with them a wealth of experience and a dedication to their fellow medical Airmen, ensuring they are fully capable to support the mission.

DuBose is one of those instructors who started his Air Force career as a general and trauma surgeon. He was interested in vascular surgery and treating the most challenging patients both in the clinic and combat environments.

“I knew these skills would be important if I wanted to continue providing the best care downrange,” said DuBose. “After receiving additional training and being involved in research, I wanted to apply those skills and teach others how to effectively manage the most difficult patients to ensure a good outcome.”

The C-STARS program gives DuBose the ability to keep his skills fresh by applying them daily in the clinic and through training other medical Airmen. Programs like C-STARS Baltimore teach Air Force surgeons the latest trauma care practices to evaluate, resuscitate and treat patients.

“Trauma care is time-critical. What you do in the first several minutes after an injury makes a huge difference for the patient, whether they were injured on the battlefield or in a car accident,” said DuBose. “When we deploy trauma teams downrange, we know they may be called upon to treat some of the sickest and most severely injured patients, and they need the proper trauma care training.”
C-STARS also provides opportunities for medical Airmen to learn from experienced civilian providers, maintain those trauma care skills in the clinic, and bring that training downrange to care for the warfighter.
“C-STARS really comes down to two key words,” said Master Sgt. Sean Patterson, a respiratory therapist and C-STARS Baltimore superintendent. “Trauma and readiness are at the heart of our program and that is ultimately our mission. When we send medical personnel downrange, it is with the idea that they are ready for any casualty they may face.”
“All of our faculty, nurses, technicians, and physicians are fully integrated into the team,” said DuBose. “We participate just as any of our civilian partners do, caring for complex trauma patients. This allows C-STARS trainees to actively participate in trauma care.”
The longstanding relationships between the C-STARS program and Baltimore STC has a significant impact on the instruction and experience of those medical Airmen who come through the program.
“You have to build those relationships between the military and civilian hospitals,” said DuBose. “Our hosts know they can trust our medical teams, and our medics learn from their civilian counterparts.”
DuBose strongly believes that the C-STARS Baltimore program has been successful in equipping these Airmen with the experience and training they require.
“C-STARS Baltimore, to me, has always represented the pinnacle of a place where you can stay clinically active and deploy to support the warfighter,” said DuBose. “Seeing trainees excel in this program makes me feel like I have the best job in the Air Force.”