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US Army forward surgical teams (FST) are small, mobile surgical units fielded since the 1990s. FSTs are utilized in a variety of ways, and can be attached to a Forward Support Medical Company (FSMC), Area Support Medical Company (ASMC), Brigade Medical Company also known as C-Med or in some cases stand alone (with appropriate support) to provide a surgical capability for those patients unable to survive MEDEVAC to a Role 2 or 3 (hospital) care. Surgeons perform hemorrhage control on combat casualties within the "golden hour" of injury. Casualties can then be packaged for medical evacuation to a higher level of care. The FST typically includes 20 staff members: 4 surgeons, 3 RNs, 2 certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), 1 administrative officer, 1 detachment sergeant, 3 licensed practical nurses (LPN)'s, 3 surgical techs and 3 medics.

By doctrine, given in Field Manual 4-02-25 (March 2003) and ARTEP 8-518-10, the team is capable of continuous operations with a divisional or non-divisional medical company for up to 72 hours with a planned caseload of 30 critical patients. The FST can sustain surgery for 24 total operating table hours and has the ability to separate into two teams that function independently. A functional operating room can be established within one hour of being on scene and break down to move to a new location within two hours of ceasing operations. FSTs are currently deployed in both Afghanistan and Iraq.


The forward surgical team is organized into four functional areas:

  • HEADQUARTERS – Communications and administrative functions.
  • ATLS (advanced trauma life support) – Triages and prepares multiple casualties for surgery or transport and has a total of 4 beds.
  • OR (operating room) – Sets up and begins surgery within one hour, can be at full functioning capacity within two hours of establishing an area of operations. The OR has two separate OR tables that can be used at the same time allowing treatment for a greater number of casualties in a given time.
  • RECOVERY intensive care unit (ICU) – Eight beds for post-surgical care; two beds reserved for patients awaiting evacuation.


The unit's equipment and supplies are packed into six Humvees with trailers. The unit can be slingloaded onto cargo helicopters and moved by the headquarters unit. Also there currently are 6 airborne-capable FSTs in the Army today (4 stationed at Ft. Bragg NC, 1 in Germany and 1 in Alaska).

See also

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