[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                         June 27, 2008

Soldiers learn, practice Combat 
Life Saver techniques

By Tom Michele, The Real McCoy Contributor

      The two most important things a Soldier must know are how to shoot a weapon and then how to perform combat life saver techniques, Master Sgt. Robert Beale said as he watched Soldiers in one of his Combat Life Saver (CLS) classes go through many medical techniques.

Photo: Pfc. Dustin Brown of the 341st Engineer Company of Barling, Ark., inserts a needle into the arm of Pvt. Jeffrey Olberding of the 341st during Combat Life Saver training. (Photo by Tom Michele)
Pfc. Dustin Brown of the 341st Engineer Company of Barling, Ark., inserts a needle into the arm of Pvt. Jeffrey Olberding of the 341st during Combat Life Saver training. (Photo by Tom Michele)

      "It is to save lives, that is very important," Beale said of the CLS classes. There are four full days of CLS instruction in the 60-day mobilization training cycle for troops preparing to deploy in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

      The CLS class has become noteworthy in the last year or two among troops for one particular aspect of the CLS, that of inserting a needle into another Soldier's arm. They call the training the "Sticks Lane."

      The needle, once inserted into a vein, and secured with an adhesive bandage to the arm, is then connected with plastic tubing to a small bag of saline solution.

      This allows the saltwater solution to drain into the wounded Soldier to rapidly help replace fluids lost by the Soldier and to stabilize the Soldier until a medic can take over and the injured Soldier is taken to a medical treatment facility.

      Army policy for in-theater operations is to have one Soldier in each vehicle be CLS certified.

      That Soldier also carries a small CLS bag with several intravenous solutions bags plus tourniquets and bandages.

      Since October 2007, all Soldiers receive CLS instruction during Initial Entry Training.

      Beale said 60 to 70 percent of mobilizing Soldiers complete the CLS.

      "We teach inserting the intravenous solution as soon as possible and to control bleeding because the leading cause of battlefield deaths is bleeding out," Beale said. "The Army's goal is to have 100 percent of our Soldiers certified in CLS."

      Beale is the CLS course noncommissioned officer-in-charge and is assigned to the 181st Infantry Brigade, the mobilization instructors at Fort McCoy.

      The CLS course directive reads, "The purpose is to train nonmedical Soldiers to provide lifesaver measures as a secondary mission when their primary (combat) mission allows."

      The directive also says, "The intended scope is to provide a bridge between the first-aid training of the self-aid and buddy-aid training given all Soldiers during basic training and to the medical training given to combat medics."

      A CLS-trained Soldier will demonstrate the ability to successfully provide immediate care that can save a casualty's life or help a wounded Soldier survive those first few crucial minutes after they are wounded and to help stabilize the Soldier until they can be treated by trained medical personnel.

      Items on the CLS course schedule are evaluating a casualty, clearing an object from the airway of a conscious casualty, putting on a tourniquet, controlling bleeding of a casualty, treat an open chest wound or an open head wound, performing first aid to prevent or control shock, and requesting and conducting medical and casualty evacuation.

      The first day or two of the CLS course is conducted at a training building in the cantonment followed by training at a contingency operating location, formerly known as a forward operating base, and convoy route.

(Michele is a public affairs specialist for Eagle Systems and Services Inc., contractor for CONUS Support Base Services.)


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