[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                               November 14, 2008
Training

181st Infantry Brigade teaching 
combat medics skills 

By Tom Michele, The Real McCoy Contributor

Wounded Soldiers count on combat medics having the skills to negotiate a battlefield, reaching them and patching them up or pulling them out of harmís way. Their lives could depend on it.

Photo: An Air Force medic inspects the identification bracelet of a "detainee" while another medic documents the information to ensure the detainee receives appropriate medical care. (Photo by Tom Michele)
An Air Force medic inspects the identification bracelet of a "detainee" while another medic documents the information to ensure the detainee receives appropriate medical care. 
(Photo by Tom Michele)

That very familiar scenario is playing out at Fort McCoy as training began Oct. 30 for the 68W Combat Medic Pre-deployment course.

The first three-week class started Oct. 30 with 36 students, and was followed with 42 students Nov. 4 and 31 students Nov. 12.

The Army brought the course to Fort McCoy because," as Maj. Dan Lechner said, "Fort McCoy has the Regional Training Site-Medical facilities already here."

Lechner is an action officer with the 181st Infantry Brigade, the unit conducting the mobilization training at the Wisconsin installation.

Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Lewis, Wash., also were in contention for the training.

Sgt. Maj. Bruce Timmins, course program director, said "Since the course was started in 2004, the mortality rate of combat Soldiers dying from wounds suffered on the battlefield is 2 percent, and that is an all-time low."

"That 2 percent all-time figure is the biggest thing about this course," Timmins said. "It is about how to treat a wounded Soldier, stabilize that Soldier, stop the bleeding and then evacuate them."

Lechner said, "That 2 percent figure is a direct result of what is being taught here so there are no surprises on the battlefield in-theater. This course is the Army recognizing the importance of the course and then funding the training. What the combat medic students do here is exactly what they will do in-theater."

Army statistics cited on the private organization Global Security Web Site state the World War II figure was 30 percent, Korean Conflict 24 percent and Vietnam Conflict 23 percent.

First Army has conducted Pre-Deployment Training for combat medics (68W) at Camp Bullis, Texas, since 2004. The Task Force Medical Trainers mission is to train and certify combat medics and provide the most advanced life saving skills prior to deployment to all combat theaters.

"We do training for the active component," Lechner said, "but it is primarily for National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers. We had many Air Force students in our first iteration. We expect Navy students to come. The Department of Defense is striving to perform its entire basic medic training to one standard."

Students coming to this course must be combat medic 68 Whiskey Military Occupational Specialty Qualified (MOSQ), according to Lechner.

Photo: An Air Force medic searches a handcuffed "detainee" for weapons or suspicious materials as the group takes the detainee to a medical facility for appropriate medical care. (Photo by Tom Michele)
An Air Force medic searches a handcuffed "detainee" for weapons or suspicious materials as the group takes the detainee to a medical facility for appropriate medical care. (Photo by Tom Michele)

"So, when they arrive at Fort McCoy for mobilization, this course is the validation allowing the Soldier to deploy in support of the Global War on Terror."

Timmins said students come from all over the country and all are enlisted pay grade E-8 or less.

"This course is a brush-up for some students who are gearing up for specific tasks and scenarios they will encounter in-theater, specifically Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom."

"This course teaches about the types of injuries predominating in those theaters," Timmins said.

Lechner noted, "We take the information from lessons learned from theater and apply that to what we are teaching our students."

"We have 16 instructors on the ground here," Timmins said. "All are mobilized Reservists."

Lechner concluded by saying, "There is no fluff in this course. The students do everything here they will do on the battlefield, like doing needle sticks at night, without lights, under fire, in a moving vehicle over rough roads and also in helicopters. They just do it."

A stick is the insertion of a needle into a Soldierís vein, usually the inside of the forearm.

An intravenous (IV) salt water solution then is gravity fed into the patient via the IV line to instantly provide needed nutrients to the body that is undergoing stress and trauma.

Fort McCoy RTS-Medís role in this new scenario is to provide three buildings for the course, according to Gerry Meyer, McCoy RTS-Med executive officer.

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

 

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