News: The next generation of combat care
Story by Spc. Alex Amen
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- The sun beamed with intensity as a soldier struggled to pull his partner away from the gunfight. He needed to begin performing life saving measures on a gunshot wound to his battle buddies’ upper right thigh.
The sweat on his brow as he began applying the hasty tourniquet was real, but the injury was not.
Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 312th Combat Service/Combat Service Support Regiment are certifying as Combat Lifesavers at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
The Army Combat Lifesaver course is the forefront in battlefield first aid, created to train the average soldier in lifesaving trauma aid and it’s constantly evolving.
“The three big killers are massive bleeding, collapsed lungs and blocked airway,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Phillip N. Rowland, a licensed practitioner nurse with 2-312th, 174th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East, who originally joined the Army in 1977. “Back then it was strictly the ABC’s, airway, breathing, and circulation. We now understand we can save more lives with controlling massive hemorrhaging.”
Rowland, a Coraopolis Pa. native, was one of the soldiers leading the CLS training, July 12.
The training conducted showed soldiers how to deal with the three big killers via quick clot bandages, needle-chest decompressions and nasopharyngeal airway (or nose trumpet) respectively.
The living doctrine that is CLS, changes with the Army’s battlefields and with the tactics of the enemy. The Army has evolved the CLS course based on the types of casualties suffered during the war on terrorism. From the Vietnam War to Iraq and Afghanistan, preventable deaths due to extremity wounds went from 9 to 44 percent, according to the Army CLS course book. These drastic statistics led the Army to a doctrinal change requiring much more emphasis on tourniquets and hemorrhage clotting.
“My first CLS course was in basic training in 2010,” said U.S. Army Spc. Tyler D. Wood, a light wheel mechanic with 1st Battalion, 322th Regiment, Logistical Support Battalion, 72nd Field Artillery Brigade, First Army Division East. “Now we don’t stick people anymore,” referring to learning how to insert an IV needle into someone for fluid transfers.
“There’s a lot of nerves in a combat situation, you’re better off to try and stop the bleeding,” added Wood, a Buford, Ga., native.
The CLS course is something these soldiers continually train on in order to stay proficient.
“It’s a good skill to have and we recertify every year to keep the training fresh,” said Wood.
CLS training and recertification is stressed heavily by the Army, he added.
“I personally have never been in a position where I had to use this task,” said 2-312 Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph H. Dupont, “But it’s an important skill set to have.”
Dupont, a Rockwood, Pa. native, joined the Army in 1984 and has seen many changes in the CLS course.
“One specific piece of training I’ve noticed from being on the ground is the needle-chest decompression,” added Dupont.
The needle-chest decompression training combats collapsed lungs, as 23 percent of combat injuries are suffered in the torso.
The Army will continue to adapt to the modern battlefield and do what it takes to minimize combat casualties, said Dupont.
“The ability to get soldiers the medical assistance they need far outweighs what it was in the 1980s,” said Dupont. “They’ve come a long way.”