The medical personnel, including a broad range of physicians, nurses and hospital corpsmen, are assigned to one of the hospital’s deployable platforms, Casualty Receiving and Treatment Ship Team (CRTS) 8.
Bataan is one of several Navy ships deployed to the hurricane relief effort. It is a multipurpose amphibious assault ship that is primarily designed to put Marine forces ashore by air and sea with helicopters, landing craft and amphibious vehicles. The ship also serves as a fully-equipped hospital ship capable of handling large numbers of casualties.
Anesthesiologist Cmdr. Joseph Paulding is serving as the team’s officer in charge. Paulding said he feels good about his mission. “It’s true that we will go anywhere we need to go,” he said, “but when you go to help someone in your own country - in your own back yard - it gives you a good feeling inside that you’re doing the right thing for a really good purpose.”
Paulding pointed out that the team includes just about every specialty that might be needed on such a mission - general surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, family practice providers, obstetrics/gynecology specialists, anesthesiologists and more.
Psychiatric Technician Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Kimberly Guyton also said that despite the challenges, she is happy to be able to help the victims of this disaster.
“I think it is good to go and help the people in need now,” she said. “It’s going to be a big challenge. I don’t really know what to expect, so I hope all goes well and we’re able to help them out and get back home soon.”
Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Brian Simpson, who is deploying from the Naval Air Station Jacksonville Branch Health Clinic knows firsthand what kind of devastation they are liable to see. Simpson is from south Florida and went through Hurricane Andrew. He also had family living in Pensacola, Fla., when Hurricane Ivan struck last year.
Simpson said knowing the suffering that people experience led him to volunteer for this mission. “I just wanted to do something,” he said,
Besides deploying this group to the Gulf Coast, Naval Hospital Jacksonville currently has more than 100 people deployed in other areas of the world, including Iraq. Fifteen more, assigned to the hospital’s fleet hospital platform, are deploying to Kuwait Sept. 4.