News: Fort Hood MSTC teaches soldiers to save lives
Story by Spc. Bradley Wancour
FORT HOOD, Texas - The Medical Simulation Training Center on Fort Hood offers the Combat Lifesaver Course designed to teach soldiers how to drastically increase the survivability of their fellow soldiers during combat deployments.
“Statistically it is shown that if you have a well-trained force that understands how to treat at the point of injury – in that first 10 minutes before the medic arrives – the survivability of the casualty increases exponentially,” Joseph Day, MSTC senior instructor, said.
The goal of the course is not to train all soldiers to be medics, but to give every soldier the ability to be the first responder to a combat injury, Day said.
“The CLS personnel are basically putting a patch on the casualties to extend their lives until they can be moved to a hospital for treatment by a medical professional,” Day explained.
While medics are present on the battlefield, they may not always be in the right place at the right time, or they themselves might become injured. This is where CLS personnel come into play.
“The CLS role is important because at the moment of injury, there is not always a medic standing right there,” Day stated. “So it is up to the soldiers standing next to the casualty to respond and treat that injury.”
Because CLS is so important to units in combat environments, the goal is to get all Soldiers certified, Day said.
“The commander’s intent is to have 100 percent of soldiers certified before they deploy,” Day explained.
The CLS certification consists of two different aspects: a hands-on practical exercise to test the soldier’s ability to treat a casualty, and a written test to assess the soldier’s retention of the classroom material. After both of these exams, students are taken out to run through several team exercises as a culminating experience.
“The most important part of the course is also the last part, when we get them into a controlled area where there are several casualties laid out on the ground,” said Sgt. Julio Gonzalez, combat medic, 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division. “That’s when all the chaos breaks loose, that’s when all the training sets in and that’s when they know if they can really save a life.”
Along with the mass casualty exercise, soldiers are run through two other team exercises, one in which they have to collect several casualties and move them to a casualty collection point, and another where they have to move a casualty through a rigorous obstacle course.
“We can’t simulate true combat so we try to keep it high intensity, keep them moving and get the adrenaline pumping,” Gonzalez said. “Once they start to sweat, their heart rate goes up, their motor skills go out and they don’t think or respond the same.”
Once the soldiers finish moving a casualty over, under and around obstacles while dodging simulated roadside bombs and enemy insurgents, they are taken into a simulated city.
“The inside portion is a simulated city environment reminiscent of Iraq or Afghanistan,” Gonzalez explained. “We have makeshift buildings surrounding a street with a vehicle and a simulated casualty. The soldiers have to maneuver, carry and treat casualties, while they are taking fire from paintball guns from the second floor.”
While it is important for soldiers to know how to move and treat casualties under enemy fire, there are other situations where CLS skills will make the difference between life and death, Gonzalez explained.
“Everyone remembers the shooting incident that happened on Fort Hood, Nov. 5, 2009,” Gonzalez said. “It’s great that there were some CLS trained personnel on site who were able to help, however, if we had more CLS certified personnel there that day, more lives could have been saved.”