MONROVIA, Liberia - Armed Forces of Liberia soldiers participated in a combat lifesaver course provided by Operation ONWARD LIBERTY mentors and AFL medics at Camp Ware’s Armed Forces Training Command March 5-6. The course combined classroom instruction and practical-application exercises in detailing the various phases of tactical combat casualty care the platoon of soldiers may employ in combat.
ONWARD LIBERTY is a U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa-led operation comprised of joint U.S. servicemembers who mentor and advise the AFL in order to develop a national military that is responsible, operationally capable and respectful of civilian authority and the rule of law. OOL’s goal is to assist the AFL in building a professional and capable military force that can effectively contribute to the overall security environment in Liberia.
OOL medical mentors and AFL medics led the combat lifesaver course, which prepared the soldiers to recognize and react appropriately in various combat-care situations, including care under fire, tactical field care and tactical evacuation care.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christina VanHorn, OOL medic mentor, praised the AFL medics for their thorough instruction of the material.
“The AFL medics took the lead on teaching the course and were very knowledgeable,” she said. “They were very thorough with descriptions and were great at answering all questions that students had.”
VanHorn and U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Robert Gutman, OOL combat medic mentor, assisted AFL medics through instruction of the course and were on hand for the platoon’s culminating field exercise, a mock engagement with a simulated enemy force, to provide encouragement and on-scene guidance.
“In the end-of-training scenario, the soldiers had to apply all of the skills they’d learned and put it all together,” VanHorn said. “During the mock engagement with the enemy, we identified simulated casualties, and they were able to look for and treat injuries using those skills.”
VanHorn noted that each phase of tactical combat casualty care serves a different purpose and is based on the degree of danger soldiers may find themselves in.
“Care under fire is rendered when under attack or in a hostile environment and is focused on treating life-threatening bleeding and moving a casualty to safety,” she said. “Tactical field care is rendered when there is not active fire, and tactical evacuation care is rendered while the casualty is being evacuated to a collection point or medical treatment facility.”
AFL Cpl. Alexander Sayon, medic and CLS trainer, said that the hands-on, scenario-based training was very beneficial to relating the material effectively.
“These soldiers may be going to a combat zone, so we’re making sure we provide them with as much hands-on training possible,” he said. “The combat exercise especially showed that they’re very proficient at TCCC and I’m confident they’ll be able to care for themselves and their platoon mates if they ever need to.”
Gutman echoed Sayon’s praise for the trainees, noting their efficiency at self-critiquing.
“They’re very motivated and were very in tune with the material,” he said. “And if they do make mistakes, they correct themselves and each other immediately and move on better for it. I’m confident they’ll be able to retain the info and apply it if necessary.”