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    Fighting the Frost: BHC Everett Sailor Freezes Challenging Cold Weather Course

    Fighting the Frost: BHC Everett Sailor Freezes Challenging Cold Weather Course

    Photo By Petty Officer 3rd Class Sarah Christoph | Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Lauren Dimaria, assigned to Branch Health Clinic (BHC)...... read more read more



    Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Meagan Christoph 

    Naval Hospital Bremerton

    “I lost consciousness for a few seconds,” recalled Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Lauren Dimaria, assigned to Branch Health Clinic (BHC) Everett.

    The loss of consciousness Dimaria experienced was a result of one of the exercises she went through during her training at the Cold Weather Medicine Course at Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (MCMWTC) in Bridgeport, Calif., Jan. 28, 2020.

    “The physiology of hypothermia is that your body initially warms up when you enter into a cold body of water for a few minutes, and then you go through what's called afterdrop. Afterdrop occurs in the initial stages of rewarming after hypothermia. As your body rewarms peripheral vasodilatation takes place and blood that was shunted to the core recirculates through the cold extremities. The return of the cold blood causes a further significant decrease of core body temperature. I think that’s when I lost consciousness,” explained Dimaria.

    The course was 23 days of intensive training that required a hospital corpsman participating to train in providing direct medical care as well as mountain rescue skills in freezing elements of MCMWTC with training elevation ranging from 6,800 feet to approximately 11,500 feet above sea level in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. The winters are severe, and trainees like Dimaria typically have to deal with maneuvering over six to eight feet of snowpack.

    Dimaria was the only female in her training group, and received a United States Marine Corps Certificate of Commendation for her distinction as the course’s honor graduate by scoring a 92 percent on the written exam and completing all of her hands-on training on the first attempt.

    Her performance was recognized by Lt. Steven Hill, senior medical officer at BHC Everett.

    “The training is very hard and is completed in arduous conditions,” said Hill. “You have to practice medicine while being freezing cold and exposed to the elements. You have to absorb a lot of information while being in a physically uncomfortable position.”

    Although Hill recognized that the training is difficult, he found her performance noteworthy for more than her ability to complete the course.

    “It's the fact that she was the honor graduate and she was nominated as the highest performing student at the course and she was in there with other providers,” said Hill. “She was there with special forces people. She was there with foreign nationals to do their training. She was in with a high caliber group of people. And to be the top performer of a high caliber group is an exceptional accomplishment in my opinion.”

    The training is designed to teach medical personnel how to respond to disasters in cold weather, and also high altitudes and difficult mountainous terrain.

    “We learned how to assess terrain for avalanches,” said Dimaria. “That involved what to do if an avalanche occurs, how to search for avalanche victims, how to rescue the victims, what kind of care they would need, and then getting to train with helicopters by transporting them to a landing zone and getting them hoisted up on the helicopter.”

    Dimaria routinely works out, but modified her regime some to prepare for the intense elements and long days on the mountain.

    “I'm always working out,” said Dimaria. “I did modify my training plan a little bit. I did a lot of step ups with weight. I added a weight vest and ran with a weight vest just to up my standards.”

    Although Dimaria works at a shore command now, she hopes to continue her career in Navy Medicine by working in special ops in the future.

    “If I get deployed to Afghanistan, it is very cold in the winter and mountainous,” said Dimaria. “So being able to have this training puts me at an advantage with the knowledge and training that I received, the education that I received, and just having the understanding of being able to read the terrain and keep my people safe.”

    Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Steven Head, assigned to BHC Everett and a prior instructor at the course, explained how rare it is for a corpsman to be able to go through the training.

    “I think they do three courses a year and they only graduate about 75 students a year for cold weather medicine,” said Head. “I want to say only five percent of corpsmen have ever been through cold weather medicine.”

    Dimaria humbly spoke to her recognition and accomplishment for earning the title of honor graduate upon completing the cold weather course.

    “I think it's super, super wonderful that I was recognized for it,” said Dimaria. “I try to be a humble person so I wouldn't have said anything myself, but the senior medical officer that I work with, Lt. Hill, made sure to have it recognized and then our commanding officer [Captain Shannon Johnson, Navy Medicine and Readiness Training Command Bremerton] also made sure to say she thought it was fantastic. So it was special to hear that and it was definitely nice to be recognized for the hard work and effort that I put into the course.”



    Date Taken: 03.08.2020
    Date Posted: 03.08.2020 10:24
    Story ID: 364719
    Location: EVERETT, WA, US 

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