News: Corpsmen up! Sailors train for mass casualty treatment
Story by Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - The calm of the medical aid station faded as a quick reaction force returned with seven casualties. It shattered completely when Marines began shouting, “Corpsmen!”
Marines and sailors with 2nd Medical Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group rushed to remove Marines with simulated injuries from a Humvee and a 7-ton truck during a field exercise here, March 31 to April 3.
The task of moving the casualties for treatment did not go as the service members expected.
“The quick reaction force called in five casualties, said they had six when they arrived, and showed up with seven,” said Navy Capt. Michael Sokolowski, the commanding officer of the battalion. “[Corpsmen] who have been deployed downrange know that’s a real thing. These are things we have to prepare for, and the only way to get prepared is doing this.”
Some of the casualties were unconscious while others were cooperative, one Marine attempted to flee the scene and had to be restrained before the corpsmen could treat his injuries – an occurrence familiar to medical personnel in combat environments where confusion and psychological trauma can set in.
“I used to work at a clinic, and this is more urgent than I’m used to,” said Petty Officer Third Class James Pollock, a native of Clearwater, Fla., and hospital corpsman with Bravo Surgical Company, 2nd Med. Bn. “Here, people come in with amputations and more severe injuries, but at the clinic it’s more appointment-based. You don’t know who’s coming in [from combat]. You just get the patient and treat him from there.”
The unit is scheduled to complete similar exercises regularly to better prepare both corpsmen and Marines to care for and treat large numbers of casualties. During an upcoming regimental field exercise, 2nd Med. Bn. plans to receive and treat approximately 15 service members at once.
“The setup we have right now is what we would use in a deployed environment,” said Petty Officer Second Class Geoffrey Polizoti, a hospital corpsman with the battalion. “We’re using it to find our strengths, weaknesses and what we can work on as far as training our corpsmen for future deployments.”
Service members who have deployed said the scenario enacted during the exercise was similar to some of their experiences overseas and treating role players helps them understand not only how to treat injuries, but the nature of the medical emergencies themselves.
“The tempo changes all the time,” said Polizoti. “It can be very stressful at times, and other times it can be steady, but as Marines and sailors, we should be ready to do our jobs at all times.”