News: Marines learn to save lives through course
By Lance Cpl. Timothy J. Lenzo
1st Marine Division
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Earthquakes in California, tornados in Kansas, or hurricanes in Florida; natural disasters affect thousands of people every year. But thanks to the Combat Lifesavers Course, Marines are better prepared to help.
The Combat Lifesavers Course is a weeklong program for Marines throughout the Corps. During the week, presentations are given in the morning and the Marines have hands on training during the afternoon.
The skills of the Combat Lifesavers Course will be demonstrated during San Francisco Fleet Week, Oct. 6 - 11.
“The basic purpose of the Combat Lifesavers Course is to teach the Marines how to take care of somebody should I not be around or become the patient,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Springston, hospital corpsman and combat lifesaver instructor, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division.
The skills the Marines learn will help in combat situations, but don’t be fooled by the title of the course, they will also be better prepared to provide first aid assistance in all types of situations.
“No matter who you are the course, would be beneficial to anyone,” said Cpl. Benjamin Pitre, Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division. “No matter where you’re at there are always potential hazards.”
Those hazards could range from firefights in Afghanistan, tsunamis in Asia or accidents on your local highway.
“Say they’re driving along the road and they come cross a traffic accident and no one’s around, they’ll be able to at least manage or stop hemorrhaging and control a person’s airway,” said Springston. “They’ll know the signs and symptoms of what to look for in an incident like that.”
The knowledge has been useful to some Marines already.
“Actually, I ride motorcycles with my buddy and he got in an accident and this was about three or four months after the course,” said Pitre.
Pitre’s friend was walking around after the fall but that didn’t stop Pitre from using the training he learned.
“Of course he didn’t have any massive hemorrhaging or anything like that and he walked up and was fine,” said Pitre. “He thought it was crazy that I was actually checking him, but he was thankful.”
This is one example of how the course can help Marines outside of combat. The medical skills covered in the course are geared toward combat situations, but the type of injuries Marines come across in combat are similar to injuries that may occur during natural disasters.
“The Marines should have no problem identifying and seeing the similarities in a natural disaster versus a combat-related incident,” said Springston.
Marines train for bleeding wounds, airway control, breathing and circulation injuries and penetrating chest wounds. All these aspects of the class are potential injuries natural disasters could cause.
“Trauma medicine is trauma medicine. It’s the same no matter where you’re at. So if they know how to manage what they are doing, they are going to be successful,” said Springston. “You cover crushing chest injuries, where if you’re inside of a building, those Marines pick up rubble off of a person’s body, now they know how to manage and treat crushing chest injuries.”
Marines who take the course will be assets wherever they are and whenever they are needed. They will use the knowledge they gain to help those in need, be it a fellow Marine, their family or a complete stranger.
“I don’t pass them unless I feel they could save someone’s life,” said Springston.
That’s the idea of the Combat Lifesavers Course, to save lives.
“The course has taught me a lot of things,” said Pitre. “I could definitely save a life, no doubt about it.”