Soldiers train Sailors, Marines to save lives in combat
NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — Sailors and Marines from Combined Task Force 68 (CTF 68) at Naval Station Rota were getting their hands dirty, learning how to manage life-threatening combat casualties Dec. 18-20, 2006. The three-day course is designed to help train service members how to handle combat casualties during military operations such as Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.
The Combat Life Saver Course, taught by six Army Reserve sergeants from the Medical Support Unit-Europe of the Germany based 7th Army Reserve Command, is the newest effort at Rota to ensure Sailors and Marines are better prepared for the challenges of combat.
The Soldiers volunteered to help train service members on life-saving tactics, and for the past three years have been training deployable non-medical personnel in the skills necessary to help combat-wounded comrades.
"The combat life saver acts as a ‘go between,' and can buy an injured person the extra time needed for a combat medic to arrive," said Sgt. 1st Class Jonathon Cureton, the course coordinator. "If everyone can learn how to control bleeding, give someone an IV (intravenous solution), treat for shock and evacuate them as soon as possible, then we'll have a better survivability rate. The goal is to bring troops home."
The training gives students knowledge in emergency medical care, care under fire, tactical field care, prevention of shock, and much more. The course is designed to expand upon the basic medical training each service member receives before deploying to a combat zone.
For Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Douglas Clemence, this is his first time training Sailors and Marines.
"It's good for us to go out and teach this, because all branches go down range," said Clemence.
According to Cureton, who is a registered practical nurse, the "buddy aid" being taught to troops may not be extensive enough in every emergency situation. Instead of just reading about the different types of assistance service members can render, the Combat Life Saver Course gives hands-on experience as well as in-depth information on what to do and how to use the items in the CLS bag.
After a day of lessons, the group then moves on to practical training where they take turns learning how to administer an IV to other classmates, and the final day is full of field exercises where the team puts their skills to work in high-intensity mock situations.
"It's good to see people that you've trained leave here with the confidence that they'll be able to help a comrade, and not just sit there and wonder what they could have done," said Cureton.
Seventy-three Sailors and Marines assigned to CTF-68 took part in the training. Sailors from CTF-68 routinely provide security aboard Navy and merchant ships and aircraft throughout the Mediterranean. The Marines assigned to Marine Corps Security Force Company Europe can be called to act anywhere in the region at a moment's notice, as demonstrated by their deployment to augment Marines at the American Embassy in Beirut, as part of Joint Task Force Lebanon last August and September.
"I'm getting a lot of experience that I'll be able to use to help my fellow Marines in a real world situation," said Sgt. Richard Reece of the 3rd Fast Company, 3rd Platoon, from Norfolk, Va., deployed to Naval Station Rota. "It's just another tool for my tool belt to hopefully save a life."
According to Reece, the IV training was particularly helpful.
"I know that's one of the first things you'll have to administer," he said. "I don't like needles personally, so they're giving me extra help to make sure I can do it right."
The course has been taught to Soldiers and Airmen stationed all through Germany, Kosovo, and also in Benin, Africa. Commands throughout Europe can request the training by contacting the Medical Support Unit-Europe in Heidelberg, Germany.
"If we can teach one person, one technique that will save one life and bring that person home, I think we've vindicated ourselves and we've done what we're supposed to be doing," said Cureton.