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News: Army Reserve soldiers get their hands dirty

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Training on pig lungs Courtesy Photo

Army Maj. Valentina Fillman, 801st Combat Support Hospital, 807th Medical Command, and Carol Smith, a respiratory therapist/educator at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center prepare to demonstrate ventilation techniques with fetal pig lungs. Saint Francis Medical Center and the 801 teamed up to give Army Reserve medics unique training during a battle assembly weekend. (Courtesy Photo/Released)

BARTONVILLE, Ill – Keeping soldiers’ medical skills sharp in the Army Reserve takes dedication, training, and sometimes, a bit of ingenuity. Soldiers with the 801st Combat Support Hospital used pig lungs to maintain their skills during a battle assembly weekend last January.

With the help of Saint Francis Medical center and their affiliated College of Nursing in Peoria, soldiers had the opportunity to witness instructors ventilate fetal pigs lungs. This training provided Reserve medics and nurses a firsthand opportunity to ask questions about respiration and lung function. This classroom environment gave soldiers firsthand experience of past deployments and gain new insights from the Saint Francis respiratory staff.

“It was great to see our troops getting their hands dirty” said Sgt. Brandon Clinard, an operating room specialist with alpha company. “Flesh and blood brings so much more focus to the table
than plastic does."

Maj. Valentina Fillman, head ICU nurse for Alpha Company wanted to continue creating unique training opportunities, so with the help of a local butcher, she did just that.

When soldiers arrived the next month, they found donated pigs lungs and hearts they could handle so they could practice medial techniques.

One set of the lungs came with its own “sucking chest wound” This lead to a discussion on how to treat a chest wound in a real fallen soldier. When this wound was closed by a gloved hand, the lung inflated perfectly. This set of lungs was then put inside a plastic bag to simulate the chest cavity. The “sucking chest wound” then became a “tension pneumothorax.” Eyes brightened and smiles hit the young soldiers when they realized the answer to fixing this pig-patient was a needle decompression. A needle to the plastic bag let the plural air out and the lungs easily inflated again. The lungs were intubated and ventilated by the soldiers. Once filled with air, the soldiers detected a knife wound and could begin treatment methods.

“This training is as real as it gets without having cadavers or real injured patients to work with” said Spec. Carl Ellis a medic with the 801st. “Kudos to Major Fillman, this is the best training I’ve had since joining the reserves."

Not all Army Reserve medics have civilian jobs in the medical field. Creative training makes the most of a battle assembly weekend so that soldiers can keep their skills sharp when called up to active duty.


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This work, Army Reserve soldiers get their hands dirty, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:03.14.2014

Date Posted:03.14.2014 08:58



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