» Interallied Confederation of Medical Reserve Officers’ (CIOMR) Summer Congress
Interallied Confederation of Medical Reserve Officers’ (CIOMR) Summer Congress
Medical professionals including surgeons, nurses, dentists, veterinarians and pharmacists from across NATO met in Sofia, Bulgaria in early July for the CIOMR Summer Congress. CIOMR is the sister organisation of the Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers (CIOR), and CIOMR and CIOR cooperate closely in various fields.
CIOMR was founded in Brussels in 1947 by Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Nowadays the Reserve Officers’ Associations of most NATO countries are members. Associations of several non-NATO countries including Austria, the Republic of South Africa and Switzerland are associate members.
The objectives of CIOMR are to study and discuss subjects which are of military medical importance and to promote effective cooperation with the Regular Forces’ Medical Services by providing information and feedback through its civilian medical expertise. CIOMR participates as an actively involved observer in the plenary meeting and the Working Group on Medical Training of COMEDS, the NATO Committee of Chiefs of Medical Services, and the Joint Medical Committee plenary meeting.
The Presidency of CIOMR rotates amongst member countries and is currently held by France. CIOMR has two committees, the Operational Medicine Committee currently chaired by Lt Col Dominique Di Duca from Belgium, and the Scientific Committee, currently chaired by Commander Stef Stienstra from the Netherlands.
The Scientific Committee was responsible for the theme and content of the educational workshops and ‘free paper’ scientific sessions at the Sofia Congress.
Workshops held at the Military Medical Academy covered Major Incident Medical Management and Support (MIMMS) and obstetric emergencies in an austere environment. They enabled participants to share best practice and discuss innovative new technologies to improve medical care in theatre.
Delegates were able to discuss how high tech technologies could be applied in low tech environments on operations, but also how they could develop deployable technologies specifically for military environments, often very different to existing civilian technologies.
The ‘free paper’ sessions took place over two days. Presenting at the sessions can help fulfil civilian training requirements as speakers are eligible for Continuous Professional Development credits. Many delegates were keen to contribute in Sofia, often speaking from their own or their country’s experience. There were 34 twenty-minute presentations in total.
The sessions had considerable continuing military medical educational value and spanned a range of subjects. Highlights included the application of a collagen based sponge for treatment of open fractures and gunshot wounds, acupuncture technologies being trialled to treat wounded soldiers both in theatre and at home, and the use of therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of anthrax and smallpox, highly relevant to biological warfare.
The Host Nation then presented on subjects of their own choice, including the medical intelligence contribution to the intelligence picture of the Battle Space and techniques of air-sampling for identification and monitoring of air pollutions.
The Operational Medicine Committee (OMC) promotes standardisation of medical practice by identifying, researching, and providing practical international solutions to improve military medicine. It focuses on the skills required for multinational operations and makes recommendations on first aid for soldiers and advanced first aid for specialists and medics. The OMC plans, organises and shares practical solutions through continuous education.
This year the OMC published its second manual, ‘Aide Memoire for Medical Personnel’. The booklet is an agreement between countries on best practice for advanced first aid in the field. It was coordinated by Col Walter Henny from the Netherlands. The booklet, and the OMC’s first manual ‘Field First Aid’, are available in six languages and can be downloaded from www.ciomr.org
The OMC delivers the CIOR Military Competition (MILCOMP) first aid event, a major evolution in the Congress for CIOMR as it requires a great deal of coordination: 32 victims, 40 judges, and 20 runners for logistics. In 2010 the OMC hope to include a first aid training session in the CIOR Young Reserve Officers’ Workshop.
Sadly the MILCOMP first aid event in Sofia was cancelled just before it was scheduled to begin as a result of the inclement weather, but the OMC had put a great deal of effort into planning and organising it, even going so far as to make up the victims with their extremely gory fake wounds.
For the competition, each team typically has to deal with four casualties in 12 minutes. They are issued a weapon, a helmet and a first aid kit. The scenario and casualties’ injuries are always very realistic. One country may have been invaded by another and competitors may form part of a multinational task force asked to go to the site of, for example, an explosion.
Besides the practical skills of administering first aid, the competitors are judged on security; determining levels of consciousness; checking the airway, breathing and circulation; triage; evacuation; leadership and communication skills; and knowledge and application of the Law of Armed Conflict. It is often the case that first aid is given prior to a proper survey of the scene.
CIOMR judges give the teams feedback with their score. The performance of all the teams is evaluated by the OMC to look for common weaknesses in field first aid. The areas that need addressing are fed back to the CIOR MILCOMP Committee to cascade to the team managers. Sometimes the scenario the following summer will re-test the weak areas to look for an improvement.
CIOMR meets twice a year, in conjunction with the CIOR Mid Winter Meeting and Summer Congress. The meetings are an excellent opportunity to establish close relationships with medical reserve personnel and services within the NATO alliance.
The theme for the CIOMR Mid Winter Meeting in February 2010 will be ‘Environmental Extremes and their Impact on Military Operations’. At the Summer Congress in Stavanger, Norway in August 2010, CIOMR will look at ‘The Input of the Medical Reserve Officer in Civilian Catastrophe Medicine’.
For more information on CIOMR see www.ciomr.org