CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Corpsmen with 1st Medical Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, displayed their medical expeditionary capabilities in support of Marines from 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, during a mass casualty exercise aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept 8, 2015 as part of Dawn Blitz 2015.
Dawn Blitz is a multinational, amphibious training exercise intended to refine the Navy and Marine Corps’ ability to effectively operate together as a cohesive crisis response force, as well as strengthen the international military relationships through crisis action planning, cooperation in amphibious operations, and command and control capabilities.
“Our role in Dawn Blitz is to support our warfighters with a whole range of health care services,” said Navy Lt. Commander Thomas Murphy, the officer in charge of Shock Trauma Platoon, Bravo Surgical Company, 1st Medical Bn. “We see anything from sick call to gunshot wounds to head traumas and amputations.”
The exercise tested the Marines’ and sailors’ technical proficiency and ability to work in unison amidst an increasingly stressful and chaotic environment.
Marines from 1st Bn., 5th Marines, responded to the simulated ambush with speed and intensity, securing the area and evacuating casualties played by sailors from 1st Medical Bn., 1st MLG.
The casualties were flown to a nearby treatment site by MV-22 Ospreys from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. At the treatment site, corpsmen from 1st Medical Bn. promptly stabilized the critically wounded patients, provided life-saving techniques and transported them to other tents for follow-on care when necessary.
“Our medical team landed on the beach by Landing Craft Air Cushion vehicles,” said Murphy, a native of Denver. “In just 30 minutes we were able to treat patients in our [Shock Trauma Platoon]. An STP is a highly mobile, highly trained group of medical folk. It is comprised of two emergency response doctors, two critical care nurses, and approximately 20 corpsmen. We are basically a traveling emergency room. We follow our Marines wherever they go. We are designed to pack up within an hour or two and are capable of supporting humanitarian operations and combat missions.”
Approximately 100 personnel from 1st Medical Bn. participated in the exercise and treated 20 casualties with a vast array of injuries.
The exercise emphasized realism and immersion. The corpsmen practiced their ability to perform life-saving surgeries in the three STP’s while the simulated casualties wore detailed special-effects makeup, moulage that simulated wounds such as chest wounds and amputations. They also incorporated a hyper realistic manikin, which gave the doctors and nurses the ability to perform realistic surgeries.
“It is important to expose the doctors, nurses and corpsmen to the sights, sounds and smells,” said Murphy. “We want to familiarize them firsthand, so that if they are ever in a situation to treat casualties in that environment, they are better prepared.”
Ultimately, the focus of the doctors, nurses, corpsmen and Marines of 1st Medical Bn. is to support infantry units like 1st Bn., 5th Marines, in the battlefield, said Murphy.
“Most of our corpsmen are experienced with this type of scenario,” added Murphy. “Half are combat veterans. Most have deployed multiple times. These guys spend long nights and days doing drills. They are highly trained individuals. I would work with any of these guys any day, in any ER.”
Exercises like Dawn Blitz 2015 provide realistic, relevant training necessary for effective global crisis response expected of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
This exercise is one of a series of amphibious training events on both coasts of the U.S. that take place alternating years. Last year on the East Coast, Bold Alligator 2014 exercised U.S. and coalition forces across a broad range of sea-based vessels while conducting amphibious operations at sea and ashore as well as training in support of contingency operations.