Fort McCoy News November 28, 2014

Million-dollar CT scanner supports RTS-Medical

STORY & PHOTO BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Fort McCoy's Regional Training Site (RTS)-Medical is the only RTS in the Army Reserve to have a computerized tomography (CT) scanner available for training use.

Photo for CT scanner article
Lt. Col. John Palazzolo, clinical coordinator, Gerry Meyer, administrative officer, and Robert Ewing, instructor, discuss the training application of a computerized tomography (CT) scanner at the Regional Training Site-Medical training complex.

Fort McCoy RTS-Medical Administrative Officer Gerry Meyer said getting the $1.1 million scanner at the facility was a lengthy process.

The scanner had been used by the 31st Combat Support Hospital of Fort Bliss, Texas, when the unit was deployed to Afghanistan before it found its new home at RTS-Medical in June.

According to RTS-Medical Instructor Robert Ewing, the scanner currently supports the 40-hour RTS-Medical CT Scanner Maintenance Course and will be used in the future for a CT Scanner Operators Course.

CT scans are used to help medical professionals diagnose many medical conditions. The scanners produce multiple, cross-sectional images of the inside of the human body, according to the device manufacturer, Phillips Corp. The images are viewable on a computer monitor and can be printed on film or transferred to CD or DVD.

"We've been holding this training with the system since June, and we've had a variety of students train with it already, including Soldiers and Navy Sailors," Ewing said.

In the maintenance course, students are taught about networking, X-ray and CT principles, image processing, CT theory, software and the basic operation of the system. "It's a good familiarization of the system," Ewing said.

Future training with the machine will continue to be focused toward the Army's 68A career field — biomedical equipment specialist.

By Army definition, a biomedical equipment specialist primarily is responsible for servicing and maintaining all medical equipment. This includes performing preventive maintenance checks and services as well as troubleshooting problems to isolate malfunctioning or defective components on medically related equipment.

"For the CT scanner, there is a task identifier in the 68A training that requires Soldiers to have knowledge on the maintenance and operations of the scanner," said Angela Goldston, who serves as the lead instructor for the CT Scanner Maintenance Course.

Throughout the Army, there are a limited number of Soldiers who are trained to maintain the Phillips CT scanner, Ewing said. On average, it costs the Army about $58,000 to send a Soldier to the maintenance training with the manufacturer.

"As our training with the scanner increases here, we'll also help save taxpayer dollars by getting more Soldiers trained on the machine," Ewing said. "That will be good for the taxpayer and the Army."

Goldston is familiar with the importance having a CT scanner in a deployed environment. She worked with one in a combat theater hospital while deployed to the Helmand Province, Afghanistan, and saw how it can help save lives.

"We had (service members) who would come in to be treated for wounds from IEDs (improvised explosive devices), and we'd use the scanner to see in better detail the extent of their injuries," Goldston said. "These machines helped save many lives."

Some of the first people to use the CT scanner were part of a medical team that trained at Fort McCoy for the Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX) earlier in 2014. Since the CT scanner is located inside a mobile, loadable container, it was moved to Forward Operating Base Freedom for training.

"That's the nice part about this system," Meyer said. "We can use it here in the RTS-Medical complex, or it can be moved to somewhere else on post for training events."

No date has been determined for the start of the CT scanner operations course, Ewing said. However, work continues to build the class structure and plan.

RTS-Medical offers one-stop training in its medical complex of buildings in the 10000 block area, Meyer said.

This allows units to conduct all their training in the area, reduces travel time and minimizes distractions.

The organization has been a tenant activity and training partner at Fort McCoy since 1991.

For more information about RTS-Medical training, call 608-388-2544.