News: Marines, dogs practice lifesaving
Story by Lance Cpl. Jose Lujano
CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa - Communication can be a challenge in a combat environment, as gunfire, smoke, shouting and rapid movement can lead to challenges between members of a team. It becomes more of a challenge when one of the team members can only bark and motion.
Military working dog handlers with 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion trained with their dogs to complete a combat lifesaver course at the Tactical Medical Simulation Center March 6 at Camp Hansen.
Marines with the battalion, which is part of III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF, attended the CLS course before being tested on their ability to apply what they learned in simulated battlefield conditions.
“We have worked with Law Enforcement Battalion before, but this was the first time military working dogs were part of a team during the final assessment,” said Joseph S. Groves, the chief instructor at the simulation center.
The CLS course is designed for service members to learn how to treat casualties on and off the battlefield.
“The first two days are instructional through presentations and hands-on practical application,” said Groves. “On the final day, the students (complete) individual assessments and team assessments.”
The Marines learned how to combat the major causes of fatalities during the course.
The three major preventable battlefield injuries responsible for taking lives are massive bleeding, obstruction of the airways and penetrating chest wounds, according to Cpl. Joshua C. McFarland, a military working dog handler with the battalion.
“The course’s goal is to diminish and eliminate preventable deaths,” said McFarland. “We cannot expect that our highly trained corpsman will always be present at the right time and place when we need casualty care, so it is important to learn these skills at the individual level.”
The Marines also learned how to assess the seriousness of injuries during the course, allowing them to identify and prioritize the most serious injuries for treatment, according to McFarland.
Once the classroom instruction was complete, the Marines moved on to practical application training with their military working dogs.
The dog and its handler are a team, and putting them into a simulated combat scenario prepares them to provide lifesaving actions in the worst of conditions, according to Sgt. Austin T. French, a military working dog handler with the battalion.
“We had to remember our training and apply it to this scenario,” said French. “I anticipate combat would be similar to this training.”
The simulated battlefield conditions were designed to expose the Marines and their dogs to high levels of stress and uncertainty.
The training occurred in dark and smoky rooms, where communication was hindered by simulated gunfire and shouting, according to French.
“It’s important to save lives,” said French. “This training allows us to keep our wits in battle, and it gets our dogs familiar with an environment where lots of distractors are present, teaching them to keep calm and ready despite what is going on around them.”
The training set the Marines up for success for a variety of situations and made each dog handler and their dog a stronger team, according to French.