CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Marines and sailors with 1st Medical Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, displayed their medical expeditionary capabilities to dozens of spectators during the first public mass casualty drill aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 5, 2013.
The drill simulated an improvised explosive device attack on a convoy. The corpsmen had to respond quickly to sort through the casualties, provide life-saving techniques to stabilize the critically wounded and call for a medical evacuation in a high-stress environment.
“We are trying to show what we can do for the Marines and the community and how we can support with our medical abilities,” said Navy Lt. Keith Nemeroff, a company commander with Charlie Surgical Company, 1st Medical Bn., 1st MLG, and a native of Philadelphia. “It’s great to show everyone what we can do and all the hard work that we put into training every day.”
The personnel set up a field hospital capable of treating up to 50 patients, 20 percent of whom could be critical patients, within a 24-hour period.
Marines, seven role-playing casualties, arrived to the medical team. Each entered the tents screaming, pretending to suffer different injuries and wounds for the corpsmen to treat. Injuries included sucking chest wounds, shrapnel to the eyes, missing limbs and external fractures.
The corpsmen assessed each patient and either treated him on the spot if their condition required immediate attention or moved them through the emergency tents to receive further treatment.
Marines portraying casualties wore detailed moulages and special effects makeup, bringing injuries such as face lacerations, compound fractures, severed body parts and puncture wounds to life. These injuries tested the team’s proficiency in applying life-saving procedures and stabilizing the victims prior to evacuation.
As the casualty drill concluded, leaders of the emergency teams on scene gathered to review the corpsmen’s performance and note areas of improvement. Brigadier General John J. Broadmeadow, commanding general, 1st MLG, shared his thoughts as well.
“The crew that you saw here are very experienced from doing this for real in Afghanistan,” said Broadmeadow. “They saved real lives, not manikins, no moulage. I appreciate all the hard work that you all put into the exercise today.”
Many personnel participating just returned from Helmand Province, Afghanistan, where their patient survival rate was 98 percent.
“The scenario we ran today is what we saw in our deployment,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Ramos, a field corpsman with Charlie Surgical Co., 1st Medical Bn., 1st MLG, and a native of Laredo, Texas. “With this exercise we are able to teach our new members how things work when we are forward deployed. We can share our stories and our experiences and set the foundation for their success when they go forward and deploy.”
Several families came to witness the drill and see what their loved ones experienced while deployed.
“It’s great for the families to see what we do every day and show them this is what their wife or husband does for a living,” said Nemeroff. “I have never worked with such a great group of professionals as I have here. This is what makes this job so rewarding.”
In the end, the exercise brought to life the importance of having these capabilities.
“Expeditionary medicine itself is an important asset to any fighting force out there,” said Ramos. “Having a resource like this that can be set up anywhere and save the lives of our Marines, airmen and sailors is a huge benefit. Having this asset in the battlefield or beachhead or wherever brings up our survival readiness.”