Lejeune officer's portable ER saving lives in the field

Hancock gets Legion of Merit

The Daily NewsAugust 23, 2009 

— A concept by Cmdr. James Hancock is saving lives of Marines and sailors who might not have returned from deployment alive otherwise.

The Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital director of medical services designed the mobile trauma bay, which can be connected to a large scale military vehicle. It provides doctors and corpsmen in a combat zone with everything they would have in the emergency room stateside with the sole exception of a CT machine, Hancock said.

The innovation that has saved at least nine lives and several limbs is what earned Hancock the Legion of Merit award, said Maj. Gen. Paul E. Lefebrve, deputy commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force.

Hancock was presented the award Friday for his service as commander of Shock Trauma Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, United States Marine Corps Forces Central Command.

"If it was up to me, they would've handed it to me in the office," he said.

But if he had received the award in his office, 12-year-old Connor wouldn't have been able to pin the award on his father's chest while Hancock's daughter, Abbigail, 14, and wife, Karen, watched from just feet away.

Hancock was deployed from March 2008 through November 2008, and has since returned to Afghanistan with his mobile trauma bay and a traumatic brain injury team.

Hancock will leave for Afghanistan next week with six mobile trauma bays, he said. Before they leave, however, the bays will be at the Naval Hospital.

"I can take the exact same thing I have here in the mercy room of the trauma bay and have it 50 feet from the fight so people are (taken care of) immediately," Hancock said of the mobile trauma bays.

Hancock recalled two Marines he treated during his deployment. The duo lost their legs and a lot of blood among other injuries, he said.

Legless in Vegas

The two Marines recently sent him a picture of them standing on prostheses in Las Vegas.

"We're saving lives that didn't used to be saved," he said. "We're treating guys that never would have made it."

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