Cutting-edge technology on show

Published on LEUT John Thompson (author), LSIS Christopher Szumlanski (photographer)

Location(s): Changi Naval Base, Singapore

Topic(s): HMAS Penguin, Indo-Pacific Endeavour

Republic of Singapore Navy Medical Officers perform a ‘cut suit’ triage demonstration at the Changi Naval Base Medical Centre during IMDEX in Singapore. (photo: LSIS Christopher Szumlanski)
Republic of Singapore Navy Medical Officers perform a ‘cut suit’ triage demonstration at the Changi Naval Base Medical Centre during IMDEX in Singapore.

A surgical ‘cut suit’ that simulates trauma and burns to allow people to practise operations was demonstrated by the Singapore Defence Force during INDO-PACIFIC ENDEAVOUR 2019 (IPE19).

The Royal Australian Navy recently purchased two of the suits for the HMAS Penguin Medical School, Sydney.

The command senior medical officer for IPE19, Commander Neil Smith, said it was the first time he had seen the technology used.

Royal Australian Medical Officer Commander Neil Smith speaks with Republic of Singapore Navy Medical Technicians during a ‘cut suit’ triage demonstration at the Changi Naval Base Medical Centre during IMDEX in Singapore.

Royal Australian Medical Officer Commander Neil Smith speaks with Republic of Singapore Navy Medical Technicians during a ‘cut suit’ triage demonstration at the Changi Naval Base Medical Centre during IMDEX in Singapore.

“This so-called ‘cut suit’ is surprisingly realistic, although it does remind me of the Incredible Hulk cartoon,” he said.

“It’s the most realistic way medics and surgeons can practise, short of working on an actual patient. This sort of high-fidelity training will save lives.”

The suit is worn by a mannequin or person as part of training to treat critical medical conditions or injuries. The surgeon cuts through the simulated skin to find organs, blood, blood vessels and muscles.

The suit can also replicate blood pressure, heart rate and breath sounds.

“We’ll be able to use it to enhance the skills and knowledge of our medics who are essentially our first responders and need to treat and stabilise patients before we can get the highly skilled doctors and surgeons to the scene,” Commander Smith said.

The demonstration was part of an international engagement activity involving medical professionals from the Singapore Armed Forces, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, the US Navy and the Australian Defence Force.

The IPE 2019 Joint Task Force visited Singapore as part of efforts to build and strengthen defence relationships.

The task force, comprised of HMA Ships Canberra, Newcastle and Success, visited seven countries during the three month deployment.