Platoons like this one are a middle link in a sophisticated system to treat the sick, injured or wounded. Traveling in a small convoy of Humvees, the units can be moved close to the action.
Along with battalion aid stations and resuscitation units, called Forward Resuscitating Surgical Suites, the platoons are steppingstones for the wounded on their way to Navy surgical companies - small field hospitals dozens of miles farther back - and large hospital complexes in Kuwait and offshore, aboard the Navy hospital ship Comfort.
On the battlefield, corpsmen moving with the Marines are usually the first medical personnel to treat the wounded. Those requiring more care are taken to a battalion aid station. Some go to a shock-trauma platoon, like No. 4.
Then, after evaluation and stabilization, helicopters fly them to better-equipped medical units.
If the wound is very serious, the patient can be evacuated from the field directly to a resuscitation surgical suite.
Trauma platoons use two inflatable tents that fold up into the back of specially built Humvees. Because the tents are designed to withstand chemical attack, stretchers are moved into the tent through an airlock, and medical personnel must enter through a double-door hatch with sprayers to decontaminate people.
Within a few minutes of a trauma platoon's arrival at a location, blowers inflate the tents, and the unit can be treating patients within an hour of being set up.
While every battalion has two doctors with just a year or two of experience, shock-trauma platoons such as Cupo's have two board-certified physicians, usually with extensive emergency-room experience.
The shock-trauma platoon is made up of active-duty doctors and corpsmen. Just before the war, they were assigned to this platoon and met only days before flying to Kuwait, Vimoktyon said.
There were some growing pains...