Friday, October 8, 2010

What the Heck is an FST?

                                                                         The 909th FST ("Wolfpack")

An FST (Forward Surgical Team) is a highly mobile, small medical unit that is designed to render life saving surgical intervention far forward in the theater of operations.  By doctrine, it is made up of 20 persons:  1 administrative officer, 4 medical doctors, 2 nurse anesthetists, 3 registered nurses, with the remaining enlisted soldiers functioning as medics, nursing assistants, or surgical technicians.  It is usually transported by wheeled vehicles, and can be ready to receive patients in as little as 30 minutes after moving to a new location.

The mission of the FST is to care for soldiers who are too unstable to be transported to the CSH (Combat Support Hospital).  The patients are stabilized with life saving surgical procedures (stopping bleeding, application of external fixation devices to broken bones, placement of chest tubes, creation of surgical airways, etc).  Most patients are evacuated to the next level of care CSH immediately after surgery.  Many of them will be operated on again there, before further evacuation to Landstuhl, Germany.

The FST is a level 2 unit.  The combat lifesaver and Battalion Aid Station administers level 1 care.  The CSH is level 3, and Landstuhl, Walter Reed, etc. are level 4 facilities.  The goal is to stabilize and evacuate to the next level as soon as possible.

The 909th FST is housed in temper tents, which are heated and air-conditioned.  We have an ATLS section which functions as an emergency department.  There is one operating room with 2 beds, so that 2 operations can occur simultaneously.  Just beyond the OR is the ICU/Recovery room, which can house about 4 patients.

                                                                                OR bed 1 - 909th FST

I have been on active duty with many units during my army career, but the 909th is the best I've ever seen!  Their leadership is strong, and their skills are remarkable.  When we get patients, the unit functions like a well-oiled machine.  I have worked in trauma units stateside, and the care here is as good or better!  The soldiers know they are well cared for.  This is important for their morale - they know that if they become a casualty, the FST is always ready to do what is necessary.  The 909th has seen its share of trauma since they arrived in theater.  They have had many successes, but have also faced the death of soldiers that they knew personally.  The 909th will leave behind a legacy that will be hard for the follow-on unit to match!

The views of this blog are those of the author only, and not necessarily of the US Army or the US Government.  None of the information given is classified in nature.


  1. Thanks for the post on the 909th group. As a spouse of one of those guys, I think they are an awesome group also. Thanks for taking the time to let us know what's going on over there from your view. For those of us at home, any news (not what we see and hear on tv...which is very little) is good news to see on any of the happenings over there. Can't wait to read and see more. Thank you! DJ

  2. Sir, My family will be so happy to see another site by one of our rotators (I am horrible about taking pictures and sending them!). Just a note though, there are no nursing assistants in the FST. The ICU is staffed by our OIC (an RN) and 3 LPNs/LVNs (or 68W-M6).
    Looking forward to seeing more!

    =-), SSG Neumann

  3. Wow, what a blog! We are so lucky to be able to follow your honorable service on here. One question, the name of your FST because of NC State? Even though I attend Duke, I am a Wolfpack girl at heart. I was lucky enough to be at a State home game during Military Appreciation night...what an incredible experience. I can't thank you (and all of our military) enough for your dedication to our safety and freedom. It helps me sleep at night knowing that if my deployed loved ones (four cousins and one brother-in-law) were injured, they would be cared for by great people like you :)

    Jessica Reith, Duke SRNA, Class of 2012