COB BASRA, Iraq — A Combat Lifesaver course hosted by the 17th Fires Brigade medical staff on Contingency Operating Base Basra in April not only provided life-saving skills for Soldiers, but also Department of Defense civilians and contractors.
Staff Sgt. Jason Alexander, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 17th FiB, medical health non-commissioned officer and combat lifesaver course training instructor, taught essential techniques that will enable each of the 17 students to perform life-saving first aid to any casualty on the battlefield.
"When you're a casualty on the battlefield, six-to-eight minutes can feel like an eternity. That's why it's critical to have someone on the battlefield that's knowledgeable on how to treat life-threatening injuries in a hurry," Alexander said.
The training consisted of classroom sessions and hands-on exercises that covered several topics designed to enhance the student's knowledge of what to expect when faced with an actual casualty.
"We teach the Soldiers the basics of providing care while taking fire, how to re-act under those conditions and how to call for additional medical assistance," Alexander said.
The class featured spontaneous training scenarios that forced the Soldiers to adapt in order to react to adverse conditions.
"We would be working on whatever assignment they had for us and then all of a sudden you would hear someone yell 'boom!'" said Spc. Jonathan Mercedes, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 17th FiB, supply clerk and native of Bronx, N.Y.
"The instructor would create an incident and, we had to administer the correct care using what we had learned," he said.
Alexander said that over the past few years the need for more Combat Lifesavers on convoys has increased due to the amount of violence U.S. forces faced in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While on missions, Soldiers who are CLS certified should inform the convoy commander of their capabilities so that they are properly used if an emergency arises.
Alexander summed-up the importance of Combat Lifesavers to the class.
"There is no piece of equipment in the Army's inventory that is worth a Soldier's life, so things you learn here will make you a tremendous asset and will also save your buddy's life on the battlefield," said Alexander.