NEWPORT, R.I. - A team of 14 Sailors from Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Unit (NMRTU) Groton in Newport, Rhode Island, conducted a pilot program to collect COVID-19 specimen samples for 165 Sailors preparing to deploy from Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn.
An NMRTU official said, the unique conditions on a submarine, including close quarters, limited medical resources and the absence of external aid necessitates thorough testing in advance to ensure the highest quality of force health underway. While each vessel has an independent duty corpsman (IDC) to provide healthcare for its crew, an IDC does not have the resources to handle a task of this caliber alone. The infrastructure and support of NMRTU Groton, therefore, proved essential to the submarine force's operational readiness.
Corpsmen protected in full personal protective equipment met Sailors lined up at the testing site entrance to conduct pre-screening. After answering a symptoms and travel questionnaire and completing temperature checks, Sailors were cleared for entry and directed to their designated sampling station. Subsequent tests were conducted pier side.
The close coordination resulted in all 165 Sailors being tested for COVID-19 in a timely and efficient manner, helping to ensure mission capability of the unit while minimizing safety hazards to the crew and testers, an official with the NMRTU said. Support and direct partnership with Naval Submarine Base New London were critical to ensuring all issues and logistical concerns were quickly identified and resolved. Following the testing, the corpsmen and operational leadership were able to apply lessons learned to execute a second round of tests in a third of the time with the same operational readiness outcome.
This rapid-cycle feedback and course correction is a prime example of how Navy Medicine uses high reliability concepts to enhance its performance and keep warfighters in the fight, the official NMRTU noted.
Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command New England supports a variety of naval medical platforms in addition to providing expert medical care at Naval Health Clinic New England, which is the health care system for the Navy in the Northeast Region, providing primary and specialty care services to more than 70,000 beneficiaries.