The U.S. Navy deployed the first En-Route Care System (ERCS) medical expeditionary capability aboard the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (IKECSG) during a regularly scheduled deployment, October 14.

The ERCS consists of a critical care nurse and a search and rescue medical technician with an integrated intensive care mobile unit that will be a component of the overall skills and readiness within the medical department aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).

“We are excited to expand the strike group’s medical response capabilities with the addition of ERCS,” said Cmdr. Jason Condino, the IKECSG senior medical officer. “This allows us the ability to evacuate critically ill patients while maintaining full medical capabilities back on the ship. Implementation of this team aboard IKE aligns with long-term plans to meet fleet-wide requirements in support of distributed maritime operations.”

The 2-person team will provide uninterrupted medical attention for one-to-two critically injured or ill patients at a maximum of eight hours during movement from the point of injury through convalescent care without clinically compromising the patients’ condition.

“We are here to provide care so that no matter where, if someone gets hurt, we have the ability to not only assist and treat and monitor them, but to also get them to the next level of care,” explained Lt. Kyle Rowland, a critical care nurse assigned to Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Camp Lejeune. “And we will be able to do that from the point of injury to where they need to go.”

The ERCS provides patient assessment and treatment, ventilation support, physiological monitoring, intravenous therapy, medication administration, supplemental oxygen therapy, airway maintenance, head and limb immobilization, and resuscitation and hemorrhage control.

“The life support system that we have provides everything we need for patient care in one unit,” stated Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Bradley Christian, a search and rescue medical technician assigned to NMRTC Patuxent River. “We previously flew with separate units, but now this will help tremendously with being able to move patients more efficiently.”

The Navy’s ERCS program has achieved its initial operating capacity and provides a ready, rapidly deployable and combat effective medical force to improve survivability across the full spectrum of care, regardless of environment.

“During future potential large scale combat operations, ERCSs are an essential casualty care capability, providing uninterrupted continuation of patient care during movement ashore and to higher capacity afloat medical assets,” said Capt. John Devlin, the director of maritime operations at Naval Medical Forces Atlantic (NMFL). “Their value in reducing battlefield morbidity and mortality will be even greater during distributed maritime operations given the tyranny of distance in potential area of operations.”

NMFL, headquartered in Portsmouth, Virginia, delivers operationally focused medical expertise and capabilities to meet Fleet, Marine and Joint Force requirements by providing equipment, sustainment and maintenance of medical forces during combat operations and public health crises. NMFL provides oversight for 21 NMRTCs, logistics, and public health and dental services throughout the U.S. East Coast, U.S. Gulf Coast, Cuba, Europe, and the Middle East.