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Military launches first ‘military trauma center’

Center has gross area of 11,169 square meters; offering two exclusive operation rooms

‘One-stop system’ covering emergency care, patient transfer, and treatment

President Moon asks center to “protect the lives of more people”

Trauma care to be expanded to police officers, firefighters, and civilian patients

Military launches first ‘military trauma center’

Military launches first ‘military trauma center’


With the aim of taking greater responsibility for the lives of soldiers and civilian trauma patients, the military trauma center has officially begun operating following an opening ceremony held on April 20. This valuable outcome occurs ten years after the start of the project.


The Ministry of National Defense (MND) held an opening ceremony for the military trauma center under the supervision of Minister Suh Wook. The ceremony was attended by first deputy director of the Office of National Security Seo Joo-seok, national defense member of the National Assembly Ahn Kyu-baek, officials from the MND, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Armed Forces Medical Command (AFMC), the United States Forces in Korea, and private medical facilities, and experts from all walks of life. The event started with a report on the present status of the center, which was followed by President Moon Jae-in’s congratulatory message, Minister Suh’s opening remarks, and a tour of the facilities.


“Today, we have accomplished a valuable outcome by launching the military trauma center in the military medical system. I am so pleased that we were able to keep our promise to take responsibility for the lives and health of soldiers to the end,” Moon said in his congratulatory message, read by First Deputy Director Seo. Stressing that the military trauma center is a ‘fort to protect life,’ Moon made the assessment that “(the center) will take full responsibility for the entire 'race against time,' from trauma patient transfer to operation and rehabilitation, and is already equipped with excellent capabilities, i.e., remote treatment support for on-site emergency care, an ambulance helicopter to transfer patients within the golden hour, etc.” Moon also predicted that “the center will become the best trauma treatment center in the country by introducing the AI converged medical system and using the integrated control system in the all-source situation center, and the long-term service military doctors specialized in trauma, trained by the military trauma center, will serve as the cornerstone for the advancement of Korea's acute trauma treatment system.” Moon also asked the center to “protect the lives and health of more people, as well as soldiers, firefighters, and police officers, through expansion in management and private-public cooperation,” stressing that “the people have great expectations of the military trauma center.”


“Our military has built strong forces to respond to omnidirectional security threats and been committed to the creation of a safe and happy defense environment that works at the level of the people by strongly pushing the Defense Reform 2.0 initiative,” Suh said in his opening remarks. Suh also commented that “the launch of the military trauma center is a key project related to the ‘reform of the military medical system,’ one of the tasks of the Defense Reform 2.0 initiative,” stressing that it “has enabled the ideal treatment for soldiers with special trauma, such as bullet wounds or explosion wounds. This will contribute to enhancing the global positioning of the ROK armed forces medical system and strengthening the ROK-US alliance by including US Forces in Korea and their families as the subjects of treatment.”


Suh also expressed his willingness to provide active support to ensure that the military trauma center becomes the core center for acute trauma care in the ROK. “This will contribute to advancing the acute care system in the ROK by providing treatment to civilian patients in the capital area, firefighters and police officers, as well as military patients,” Suh explained, adding “I hope the military trauma center will take the lead in advancing the national trauma care system by further developing our expertise in the area of acute trauma care. The military needs to keep working to introduce fourth industrial revolution technologies, including AI, to ensure the advancement of the military medical system.”


The military trauma center is a trauma treatment clinic to provide specialized diagnosis and treatment to soldiers with special trauma such as bullet wounds and explosion wounds, as well as other trauma patients in the military, and in the future will be extended to serve civilian trauma patients. Facility construction started in the second half of 2017, and the center was completed in March 2020, but in September 2020 it was designated as a clinic dedicated to COVID-19 cases. The center was relieved of its COVID-19 related duties on April 18, after completing treatment of 500 confirmed cases.


The military trauma center has a gross area of 11,169 square meters (3300 pyeong), and offers excellent facilities and equipment, such as a trauma resuscitation ward which enables an emergency patient to receive treatment and resuscitation in one place, two dedicated operation rooms, and twenty intensive care wards. This has enabled ‘one-stop care for emergency patients,’ which covers emergency care linked to the all-source situation center of the Armed Forces Capital Hospital, prompt patient transfer by using an ambulance helicopter (Medion), and treatment in the military trauma center, for emergency trauma patients in the military.


The AFMC designated Kim Nam-ryeol, head of the Korean Society of Acute Care Surgery and the leading expert in civilian trauma care, as the first director of the military trauma center, with the aim of strengthening the expertise of the center. The AFMC also worked to have long-term service military doctors be trained in the civilian regional trauma center every year, and devoted itself to enhancing the capabilities of human resources by selecting and fostering 50% of the long-term service military doctors in the trauma care and surgeon section.


The military plans to provide expanded support by treating civilian trauma patients, as well as soldiers, through private-public-military cooperation, and will actively introduce fourth industrial revolution technologies. To this end, the military plans first to provide trauma care to patients in the military, and then to push forward with phased trauma care for police officers, firefighters, and civilian patients by working in cooperation with related organizations and private medical institutions.

By Chae-Mu, Im < >

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