|Story & photo by Sgt. Lolita E. Brown, 49th Military
The platoon is on the battlefield, the enemy is returning fire, Soldiers
are injured and bleeding. The medics have been called but are
unavailable. The injured Soldiers survive because fellow Soldiers in the
platoon were trained as combat lifesavers (CLS).
Regional Training Site-Medical Combat Lifesavers instructors
observe Spc. DaTisha Nono of the 467th Medical Detachment as
she moves a simulated injured Soldier to safety during training
Regional Training Site (RTS)-Medical Fort McCoy teaches the CLS
Course for the sole purpose of helping Soldiers survive on the
Machele Bollman, Radiology instructor, said, “Equipped with the
techniques we are teaching in this class, we are allowing the Soldiers
to be combat ready. The Soldiers will learn to rely on their own ability
to medically survive if they were injured in a combat situation,” she
Steve Garza, RTS-Medical McCoy Paramedic instructor, said, “The CLS
course originally was designed to boost the medical capabilities of
forward operating combat arms units because there was a shortage of
medical personnel. It was designed as a bridge between the injured
person and the arrival of the medic.”
Current Army policy requires that everyone be trained as combat
lifesavers. Basic Training has eliminated the First-Aid course and has
replaced it with the Basic Training Lifesavers Course. To be deployable,
the Army has required recruits to be certified in this course.
Gregg Roberts, Registered Nurse and Clinical Coordinator for
RTS-Medical, said, “The realization of the importance of Combat
Lifesavers (training) became apparent at the onset of OIF/OEF (Operation
Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom). The skills that are taught
can save approximately 15 percent of previous battlefield deaths due to
bleeding, airway compromise, and tension pneumothorax.”
“There’s no reason to bleed out from extremity injuries when you have
the ability to correctly put a tourniquet on,” he added. The main things
taught in this course are tactical combat casualty care (TC3), bleeding
control, and airway management to include needle decompression and
maintaining an airway.
The survival rate for extremity wounds is almost 100 percent because of
this training. “I have received e-mails from Soldiers thanking us for
the training. They have indicated that if it wasn’t for this training,
their buddy might not have come back alive,” said Roberts.
“We look at the current operating environment to adapt the doctrine and
policy of our training,” said Garza. TC3 was established in 1997 by the
U.S. Army as an acceptable replacement of the old World War II thinking
of combat. “In TC3, we teach our troops what to do in different
scenarios, such as care under fire.” he added.
Under the instruction of the RTS-Medical staff, the CLS course is
conducted for approximately 2,000 Soldiers annually.
RTS-Medical trains and certifies units at Fort McCoy, but also has mobile
capabilities to train personnel at their home station.
“RTS-Medical Fort McCoy has animated mannequins that bleed. The
mannequin will not stop bleeding until the Soldier applies realistic
pressure with a tourniquet. This is to show the Soldier that the
pressure they feel of putting it on themselves may not be adequate in a
real-world situation. RTS-Medical possesses enough equipment in the
course to have each Soldier complete hands on training scenarios,”
Roberts said. At the end of the course Soldiers participate in a LANES
Training scenario involving treatment of an injured Soldier in a combat
environment. The training course requires annual recertification. Most
units lack the equipment to recertify on their own and are welcome to
return to the three-day course at RTS-Medical McCoy.
Garza related how CLS-trained personnel saved him. While on a mission
during OIF/OEF, the C-130 he was in took enemy fire while he was
One of the CLS-certified Soldiers told the loadmaster Garza didn’t look
“The CLS-trained Soldier did a head-to-toe assessment and found a wound
to the abdomen. I bled a lot internally and ended up having multiple
surgeries,” Garza said. “If that Soldier had not had CLS training and
knew what to look for, I was told that within the next hour-and-a-half I
would have died on that ramp.”