Airman Magazine, Peter Ising
Photo by TSgt Sandra Welch
Photo by TSgt Tyler Placie
Photo by SrA Keith James
Special Operations Surgical Teams, commonly referred to as SOST's, are teams of lightweight, mobile surgical specialists with advanced medical and tactical training to save lives, anywhere and anytime.
SOST members are dedicated to their craft, their team, the mission and their patients. Should a special operator fall, SOST will be there to provide the critical care to save lives. This pledge is reflected in their motto: “QUIS ILLOS BELLATORES CUSTODIET,” or “Those Who Care for the Warriors.”
SOST is an extremely lightweight, mobile, and rapidly deployable element that is medically and tactically trained to provide trauma resuscitation and life-saving surgical care on or near the battlefield. Our SOSTs close the gap between the front lines and conventional medical care.These teams, carrying specialized equipment, are specifically designed to support a wide spectrum of U.S. Special Operations Command missions in varying threat environments, locations, light conditions and weather-forward and independent of established healthcare support systems or facilities. SOSTs shrink the Golden Hour because of their proximity to combat and crisis, combined with the ability to conduct high-level surgical operations and trauma resuscitation.SOST deploys with specialized surgical and critical care response equipment and can be fully operational within 15 minutes of infiltration or arrival. The team’s equipment is primarily contained in highly tailorable, mission-modular, backpacks creating a much smaller footprint than that of other special operations forces (SOF) or conventional medical assets.Operating in austere environments with limited equipment and resources, it is imperative to have the right faces in the fight places. Versatility and trust is critical for the teams to seamlessly execute the mission of an operating room and emergency room with only six members.
MILITARY/CIVILIAN TRAUMA EXPERTS
FORWARD SURGICAL OPERATIONS
Emergency PhysicianGeneral SurgeonNurse AnesthetistCritical Care NurseSurgical TechnicianRespiratory Therapist
Spring 2022 SelectionApplications Due: 20 Jan 2022Phase I Board: 28 Jan 2022
Phase II In-person Selection: 06 - 11 March 2022Fall 2022 SelectionApplications Due: 14 July 2022Phase I Board: 22 July 2022
Phase II In-person Selection: 28 August - 02 September 2022
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Members of SOST's train and support Special Operations Forces all over the world, but they are assigned to the 24th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla., and perform clinical duties at Level-1 Trauma Centers located at University Medical Center, Las Vegas, NV., or the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center in Birmingham, AL.The team members of SOST train to support Special Operations Forces around the world. They are based at the 24th Special Operations Wing within the 720th Special Tactics Group.
Video by Peter IsingAirman Magazine
Becoming a special operations surgical team member is no easy task.
If selected, new members go through 10-12 months of specialized training before deploying on their first operational mission. The training includes several survival, evasion, resistance and escape courses, advanced operational medical training, and several months of SOF-specific operational and tactical training. They also receive SOST and Special Tactics centric familiarization, and finally participation in a full-mission profile exercise with other combat units.
2017, Operation Inherent Resolve
A 6-man Special Operations Surgcal Team stood up an ER/OR in an undisclosed location right behind the Forward Line of Own Troops (FLOT). They conducted damage control surgery and stop bleeding to transfer individuals to a higher level of conventional care. A total of 1,011 patients including coalition troops, local partner forces, civilians and children recieved care for: 539 blast wounds and 221 gunshot wounds. Around 1370 units of blood were transfused, had 53 emergency blood drives, and condcuted 211 life-saving surgeries. The team had a 98.2% survival rate even though they were taking in fire within 200 meters of where they operated.
December 2020, Alabama
The 24th Special Operations Wing launched the Special Operations Center for Medical Integration and Development, a program designed in cooperation between the U.S. Air Force and the University of Alabama-Birmingham to develop and provide advanced standardized training to special operations medics. The training used realistic and innovative techniques including virtual reality, field training exercises and clinical hospital rotations to maintain readiness of Special Operations Surgical Team members, pararescuemen and independent duty medical technicians.