News: PA Guard and Canadian medics cross-training immeasurable
Story by Sgt. Matthew Keeler
CANADIAN FORCES BASE PETAWAWA, ONTARIO, Canada – Soldiers from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and Canadian Army worked on a medical scenario as part of the mission Steadfast Warrior here, Aug. 21, 2012.
“I think this type of training is priceless,” said 1st Lt. Daniel Clark, medical platoon leader and field medical assistant for the medical platoon of Headquartersand Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment. “Being able to work with other countries and other medics from different units, you cannot get that anywhere else.”
The joint training scenario involved a Canadian casualty reported by forces in the field as if a real-world incident.
“It was an exercise scenario where we get a call, called a 9-liner. Basically it gives us the information about an accident that has occurred or injuries that have occurred, and so we had a person come in with a fictitious femur fracture and basically we had to stabilize and or treat as necessary,“ said Capt. Jennifer Purdy, general duties medical officer for the 2 Field Ambulance, and a Kanata, Ontario native.
For the medical platoon, Spc. Dylan Casner, a combat medic, and a Port Matilda, Pa. native, participated in the scenario.
“I was the recorder,” he said. “We have a team; one guy is on head, one guy on the upper body and one guy on the lower body. And that is exactly how they set up.”
Once the casualty arrived at the 2 Field Ambulance aid station, the team went to work checking for everything from vitals to injuries, he said.
“One person began yelling out vitals, others yelling out where the injuries are, yelling out the conditions and all that. And then whoever gave out morphine yelled that out, and I wrote it down,” he said. “So, that’s exactly how we would do it.”
“The idea behind the Canadian medical system is that we try to treat them at various stages as close to the battlefield as possible. But, if we have to send them back we try to stabilize them as best as possible, and that is what we did with the situation here,” said Purdy.
After the casualty’s injuries were recorded, and prepared for transportation they were moved to an ambulance that had arrived in support of the scenario. The loading of casualty onto the ambulance marked the end of the scenario, but the importance of cross-training with multinational forces could not be lost on soldiers involved.
“I think that involving the U.S. with our training is very important because when we go overseas we are working hand in hand,” said Cpl. John Stewart, a medical technician with the 2 Field Ambulance, and an Oshawa, Ontario native. “In Afghanistan there are a lot of times when the hospitals are manned by both Americans and Canadian troops, so it’s good that we get some more training now for future operations.”
Stewart, who along with Purdy has trained with U.S. forces prior to this event, stressed the learning both forces receive in cross-training and performance, he said.
“This is not my first time working with the Americans, and I always found that I learn something new. And, I think that it is important to switch things up and learn from a different perspective to learn new ways and for the Americans to learn new ways,” he said.
On a normal Annual Training, the soldiers of the medical platoon are not offered this kind of experience, said Clark, a Williamsport, Pa., native.
“We are part of the headquarters [company] and the headquarters are there to support the line companies,” he said. “All of our medics get pushed out to the field and pushed out to the line companies. So it’s really hard for us to say, ‘oh well, during the live-fire you cannot get medics because we need to train this kind of stuff.’
But, those times when the medics are training with the line companies are important because the soldiers need to learn to trust those medics who might save their lives one day, he said. But, the chance to train and learn between the Canadians and Americans at Petawawa are immeasurable.
“Overseas we are a coalition force or a multinational force. This time we learned how to work out all the kinks. We learned their different ways to practice stuff, and they learned our ways of practicing stuff. How we go about doing things and they go about doing things,” he said.
“And, when you go overseas and it is the first time working with Canadian forces or British forces or something. Those kind of seconds that it takes you to think, ‘well, that is not how I do it or that is how I do it or that is the same thing,’ are precious seconds that in the medical sense are what really count.”