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.
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
"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
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
"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
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