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August 24, 2012


Regional Training Site-Medical trains combat lifesavers

Story & photo by Sgt. Lolita E. Brown, 49th Military History Detachment

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).
PHOTO: Regional Training Site-Medical Combat Lifesavers instructors observe a student move a simulated injured Soldier. Photo by Sgt. Lolita E. Brown
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 at McCoy.

Regional Training Site (RTS)-Medical Fort McCoy teaches the CLS Course for the sole purpose of helping Soldiers survive on the battlefield.

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 added.

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 treating patients.

One of the CLS-certified Soldiers told the loadmaster Garza didn’t look well.

“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.”

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