News: 24th MEU’s CLB and BLT conduct 'masscas' exercise
Story by Cpl. Todd Michalek
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Marines and Sailors with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 24, and Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, took part in a week-long mass casualty, or “masscas”, training exercise, July 14-18, 2014, at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Hospital corpsmen from the Special Operations Training Group, commonly known as SOTG, oversaw the exercise and ensured the Marines and Sailors learned the fundamentals of executing a masscas through simulated scenarios involving role players and air support from an MV-22B Osprey with the unit’s Air Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (Reinforced).
“The training evolution this week involved training CLB [and BLT] on proper masscas procedures,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Roderick Ward, a hospital corpsman and lead instructor with SOTG. “Our goal is to give them a basic understanding of what they might experience once they deploy,” he said.
Throughout the week, CLB-24 participated in classes and demonstrations that emphasize the various procedures necessary to smoothly execute a mass-casualty evacuation.
“It’s definitely been a crawl, walk, run process for us,” said 1st Lt. Joel D. Natareno, the adjutant for CLB-24. “We have a lot of younger Marines and Sailors who have never participated in masscas training, so it’s given us a better understanding of how we have to execute at each stage of the evacuation.”
The “crawl, walk, run” analogy sums up the approach the field corpsmen took in educating the Marines and Sailors – showing them the most basic concepts first, and slowly – but steadily - moving forward, to more advanced concepts and techniques.
“The week began by showing them how to set security at the point of injury,” said Ward. “They also learned how to triage, treat, and move casualties from the point of injury to a casualty collection point, or CCP.”
As the week progressed, CLB-24 learned the most important elements in handling a masscas scenario, such as securing a landing zone, prioritizing the casualties by seriousness of injury, and getting the casualties evacuated to receive the proper care.
The week’s training culminated with CLB-24 applying the knowledge they learned throughout the week by handling a masscas scenario on their own.
The scenario involved Marines on patrol through a village when an IED went off, Ward explained. The simulated blast injured Marines and local nationals. A masscas unit was sent to respond. Once the unit arrived on scene, a security team set up a perimeter for the helicopters so the masscas unit could safely conduct their operations—treating and evacuating casualties.
Despite all the moving parts and chaotic nature of the scenario presented to the Marines and Sailors, they smoothly and successfully executed the mission.
“They are ready right now,” said Natareno. “They understand the process of how to handle a masscas evacuation and how to execute in each stage of the process.”
CLB-24 was refining the intangible elements that dictate how successful a unit will be in a real life scenario—the level of comfort they had with each other, how well they rely on each other, their ability to predict each other’s movements under duress, and strong group chemistry. Each of these elements provided the foundation for the success in this training.
“This training is invaluable,” said Natereno. “Having the chance to be out here provides us with not only the book smarts, but the street smarts to execute. We’ve seen a lot of success and improvement as a team and it will pay dividends once we are called upon during the deployment.”
The masscas training was only one small part of the 24th MEU’s pre-deployment training program, which started last month. The 24th MEU is scheduled to deploy at the end of the year.