UMMC Trauma Nurse to share war zone expertise with health-care providers bound for deployment
With 28 years of experience working as a trauma nurse, mostly in adult and pediatric emergency departments, Kevin Beasley has seen and treated untold injuries both strange and extreme.
But no matter what high-profile trauma center a nurse might work in, Beasley says nothing compares to the sort of injuries a trauma nurse will encounter in a war zone.
As a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve Nurse Corps, Beasley returned to the University of Mississippi Medical Center last March after a 432-day deployment to Afghanistan, where he treated wounded U.S. and coalition troops as well as Afghan civilians and even enemy fighters.
His next deployment was slightly less intense but no less important: In April, Beasley shipped off to Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he is spending four months helping the Navy write training guidelines for future health-care providers who will be deployed overseas. The goal is to prepare them for the types of extreme injuries they will face.
Currently, doctors, nurses and corpsmen are trained in essentially the same way as if they were preparing to work in ERs and trauma centers in the U.S.: they might see common injuries stemming from car wrecks or gunshots, Beasley said.
“What we don’t take care of here are double and triple and quadruple amputees from IED (improvised explosive device) explosions,” he said. “We don’t see explosions from mortar fire here. We don’t see a 7-ton vehicle rollover. We don’t see traumatic hemipelvectomies, where the person is literally split in half.”
Appointed by the Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy as the Operational Specialty Leader for the Navy Reserve, one of Beasley’s responsibilities is to advise on issues related to operational nursing.
“We look at what a nurse needs if they’ve never deployed,” he said. “There was a request by the Navy Expeditionary Medical Institute which is at Camp Pendleton to have me come out and help write this curriculum.”
The type of patient management Beasley aims to teach was forged by his experiences while stationed in Kandahar, where he and his medical teams treated an average of 15-30 patients per day. In a war zone, you don’t have time to ask and wait, he said. You have to do and tell.
“It is an extremely aggressive way of managing a trauma patient, but at the same time it’s very effective,” he said.
The constant flow of patients, whether at the NATO-run medical facility or on helicopter transport, keeps caregivers sharp and intensifies teamwork, said Beasley.
That method of teamwork is encouraged at UMMC, and Beasley says he has seen it in the Adult Emergency Department. Jonathan Wilson, director of emergency services, agrees.
“We are the busiest ER in the state, and our nurses give the best care,” Wilson said. “Kevin is good example of that. He’s a very competent and compassionate nurse and really exemplifies what we want to see in an ER nurse.”