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Marines, sailors train to save lives in combat

28 Oct 2011 | Pfc. Timothy Chidlers

Exploding fireballs and corpsmen screaming from the top of their lungs set the scene as Marines and sailors took part in the first Operational Medical Symposium here Oct. 28, in which service members simulated treating casualties in a combat environment.

Marines and sailors from 1st Medical Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, joined by corpsmen from Naval Medical Center San Diego, provided training and education to the active duty staff of NMCSD who have never deployed in a combat setting in order to prepare them for upcoming deployments.

Approximately 450 doctors, nurses and hospital corpsmen participated in 90-minute training blocks covering the five medical echelons of care used by Navy Medicine. Echelons begin at the point of wounding, illness, or injury, and provide a continuum of care extending through prolonged rehabilitation, according to Sonja Hanson, public affairs officer, NMCSD.

During one of the training blocks, sailors were required to treat casualties during a simulated improvised explosive device blast. The casualties had fake injuries such as severed limbs and face lacerations which the sailors had to treat, as instructors sprayed fake blood on the wounds and their faces.

Many of the Marines and sailors who have seen combat found that the realism of the training reflected what they had experienced overseas.

“I have had a similar experience while deployed in Afghanistan,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon B. Brown, corpsman, Simulation Center, NMCSD. “The simulation was very realistic. It’s essential for the [Marines and sailors] training to have a level of realism so they will be ready when it counts.”

To simulate the stress of combat, the instructors screamed questions at the corpsmen as they performed Combat Lifesaving Skills on the casualties.

“It’s very important that we induce stress on [the sailors],” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Gagucas, formal instructor,  Advisory Training Group, 1st Medical Bn., 1st MLG. “Their concentration will be required in a real-life scenario to save lives.”

Combat medicine is the first and most critical moment of the medical echelons. Stabilizing the patient in the field may be the difference between life and death for the casualty

Motor transportation operators also play a major part in saving the lives of service members injured in combat. It’s their job to drive the casualties from the sight of injury to higher echelons of care.  They need to get the patients from the field to the rear as fast as possible, said Lance Cpl. Michael B. Halick, motor transportation operator, 1st Medical Bn., 1st MLG.

The Advisory Training Group comprises Marines and sailors with deployment experience who teach service members about important combat medicine concepts, including Tactical Combat Casualty Care and CLS.

 “I think the nurses and corpsmen already have a basic understanding of what’s required of them to save lives,” said Navy Lt. Kelly A. Trout, officer in charge, ATG, 1st Medical Bn., 1st MLG. “We bring the experience of working as a team in the austere. This is one of the obstacles we can help prepare them for.”

After the training blocks were completed, the instructors reviewed with the sailors their performance. They pointed out the difficulties that they had during the event and also what they excelled at, so they would know their strengths and weaknesses. In the end they congratulated the service members on dealing with the stress and completing their mission. They were confident that if it came down to the real thing, the Marines and sailors could pull through and save lives.


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