News: Medics learn advanced skills to treat patients
Story by Spc. Nathan Thome
FORT CARSON, Colo. – Fort Carson’s medical professionals began training at Evans Army Community Hospital Jan. 7, carrying through to Feb. 8, to develop and enhance their medical proficiency, as well as update and sustain their clinical skills.
Fort Carson kicked off medical skills training in March 2012, starting as a 15-day course, but then modified to a 24-day training period to allow soldiers to train longer and go more in-depth into working in a clinical environment.
“Basically, this training helps medical soldiers to build on the skills they already have when they’re fresh out of advanced individual training," said Sgt. 1st Class Jimi Harris, Department of Emergency Medicine noncommissioned officer in charge, Evans Army Community Hospital. “They learn what it really means to do their job when they get to their unit."
Normally, what training they can do prior to deployment can be limited, but this training provides soldiers more options.
"When they’re deployed, they get to do more things under the license of a provider, but in the garrison environment, they’re limited and can only do certain things,” said Harris.“Coming here and doing this rotation, it gives the soldiers the opportunity to do a little more than what they would usually do in their aid stations. For the most part, they already have the medical knowledge. This is enhancing their skills and adding what they normally wouldn’t (receive) in their battalion aid stations, and benefiting their units when they go back, because they have this knowledge that they can call upon both when they are in garrison and downrange.”
The medical professionals have completed six days of their training, both learning and performing tasks, such as sutures (stitches), operating an electrocardiogram, blood draws, throat cultures, glucose testing, escorting patients and a variety of other clinical tasks.
“This training gives us a variety of new skills that we wouldn’t have learned if we weren’t in a hospital setting,” said Pvt. Zachary Lutz, healthcare specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. “It builds upon things we have already learned during our other training and advanced individual training, so we are able to treat and help more patients in more types of situations than we were beforehand. Also, if we were to get detached to a hospital, we would have some experience in a hospital setting.”
As the soldiers’ skills improve, they will advance in their training and perform more complex tasks and operations.
“Once they get the confidence that we can perform more tasks, we’ll start moving to the next level,” said Lutz. “The way it’s taught to us is: we watch a procedure, we do what is taught to us, then we teach - meaning we need to be proficient enough to teach what we’ve learned.”
In addition to valuable skills gained, Lutz expressed the importance of staying calm in intense situations.
“No matter what situation you’re in, you need to stay calm, be collected and have a very clear line of communication with one another,” said Lutz. “We need to keep a cool head, because that can make all the difference when I comes to performing a successful medical task.
When the medical soldiers return to their units, they can use the knowledge they’ve gained to mentor the soldiers in their units, so they too can become more proficient in their skills.
“The vast majority of what we have learned we will be able to use at our clinics, but we will also be able to apply it as field medics,” said Spc. David Holmes, healthcare specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. “This training is geared more toward the soldiers who don’t work in the hospital and allows us to expand our knowledge of medical procedures, but we can use it to teach others so they will be prepared in future situations.”
Through this training, soldiers gain a wider perspective of tasks medical professionals accomplish and expand their medical goals.
“When it comes to medics, there are two separate sides: there are the line medics and the clinic medics,” said Spc. Joe Rodriguez, healthcare specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 16th FA Regiment, 2nd BCT, 4th Infantry Division. “I’m trying to go into nursing, so this is a good eye-opener for me to get more practice. Being in a line unit, I don’t really get to learn their role, but being here, I can see more of what they do."
“When this opportunity came, I jumped on it. I’ve been trying to come the hospital for as long as I can," Rodriguez added.
He joined the training to serve as a stepping-stone to his ultimate goal, being a sports medicine practitioner, but training with civilian patients has given him a new perspective and foundation, broadening his plans for the future.
The program has received praise from the soldiers, expressing the advanced skills and greater confidence it has instilled in them.
“I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into when I started this program, but I’m so glad that I’m part of this,” said Rodriguez. “It helped me get the confidence I need to do procedures in the future, and the knowledge to teach other soldiers in my unit become even better at their jobs. We’ve been here six days and we’ve learned a lot, and there is so much more to learn.”