New Society Executive Director Named; More on History of Navy Medicine

Last April, the Society Executive Director (and your blogger-in-chief) announced that he would step down from these posts as of his 70th birthday, on 25 April 2013. In subsequent months, a few interested individuals held their collective breaths as we made a search for my successor. Then, happily, Jim Dolbow stepped forward to take on the task. Jim has a long and abiding love of Navy history. He’s worked as a contractor for the Naval History and Heritage Command, where he built readership of their social media into the “tens of millions”, according to his former boss there. Jim is very well connected with the Naval historical establishment throughout Washington DC. He will bring new ideas and new energy – “new directions” (same former boss) – to the Society. Jim will officially take the Conn on 25 April 2013. Welcome aboard, Jim!


This week, I had the great good fortune to attend a lecture by Navy Surgeon General VADM Matthew Nathan at the Marines Memorial Club in San Francisco. When questioned about the effect of the prospective sequester on Navy medicine, he opined that combat casualty care and post-combat care will not be affected. What concerned him, he said, was that as we withdraw troops from Afghanistan, we risk forgetting the lessons that have made our efforts to save life and limb there so remarkably successful.

Somehow, I don’t think our combat surgeons and corpsmen will forget these lessons: trauma surgeons will continue to train in big city hospitals, where Friday and Saturday night “rod and gun club” (as we called it in Chicago when I trained there) activities will continue to simulate combat conditions for years to come. Navy Corpsmen, the “first responders” in the field of combat – the ones who are present in the “platinum fifteen minutes” and are so responsible for saving lives after combat injuries – will soon be trained as Emergency Medical Technicians. If the Navy is wise, it will arrange to have its trauma surgeons return regularly to big city hospitals for refresher training, and its corpsmen, if they are not actively practicing their EMT arts, to also refresh their skills, in our larger cities.

What I would worry about more, however, is that the Navy bureaucracy will forget these lessons of history, and through the passage of time in peace, navy medical doctrine – and logistics – will fall out of date. Budget cuts may mean archaic or non-functional CT scanners and outdated materials in those Medlog lockers. I submit that it should remain a high priority that a dedicated team of medical logisticians annually review our forward positioned medical supplies to make certain that they contain state-of-the-art equipment and supplies, and that trauma care doctrine is regularly updated to reflect the latest best practices in combat casualty care.

©2013 Thomas L Snyder

About thomaslsnyder

Retired urological surgeon and navy reservist. Writing the history of the Navy's first hospital on the U S west coast, at Mare Island, California. Founder and Executive Director, the Society for the History of Navy Medicine. Founder and Coordinator of the Albany Base Hospital No. 33 Society, a military affinity group at Albany Medical College, my alma mater. Past Commander of the San Francisco Commandery of the Naval Order of the United States and founder and past Commander of the Naval Order's "virtual" Continental Commandery. Naval Order Ship's Store manager and Assistant Treasurer General. Member of the Solano County (California) Historical Records Commission.
This entry was posted in Commentary, Reportage. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to New Society Executive Director Named; More on History of Navy Medicine

  1. William L Brannon Capt MC USN ret. says:

    I surely share your concern about the bureaucracy forgetting lesons learned. They need a constant reminder of the facade at the National Archives– “What is past is prologue”
    During my tenure at NH NNMC we supported 22 different training programs in medicine. Sadly those are all either lost or merged into lesser programs. Education seems in most arenas to have lost status and a sense of importance.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s