CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. - More than 70 Soldiers from the New York Army National Guard are now better equipped to save lives after completing a four-day-training course here.
As of June 22, the soldiers are certified graduates of the combat lifesaver (CLS) course offered here by the 106th Regional Training Institute.
“The combat lifesaver is somebody who is embedded in a unit- whose usual duties entail something totally different than medical- but is able to conduct that initial treatment if a medic isn’t available,” said Sgt. 1st Class Lamont Pugh, the medical branch course manager at the 106th Regional Training Institute.
This isn’t just a “check-the-box” training event for the soldiers who attend the CLS course, Pugh emphasized. Computerized mannequins that can cry out in pain, breathe, blink and even bleed are utilized to intensify the practical portion of the training, he said.
“There are certain conditions that you just can’t replicate,” Pugh added, “however, we found that if you make the training challenging enough, that when a soldier goes to battle, they won’t freak out as much when they are confronted with somebody who is injured.”
Having a sense of urgency is emphasized by the instructors who know just how valuable a CLS can be to preventing the death of a fellow soldier.
“Their training isn’t as extensively detailed as the medic’s course, but we really try to get the soldiers, who come through here ready for a combat environment, said Staff Sgt. Dara Cunningham, a CLS instructor with the 106th RTI.
“CLS soldiers are typically the first responders, and if something happens to the medic on patrol, then the CLS is going to be the one to take care of your soldiers,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham, who deployed as a combat medic in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004-2005, has first-hand experience with working alongside CLS’s.
“They would come in with the patients that they had already treated, and they would help us to continue to treat the patient. There were some soldiers [in Iraq] who could have died if it hadn’t been for the CLS who did the initial treatment.”
The Soldiers learned a variety of medical procedures, such as how to use the combat application tourniquet, open and maintain airways, treat a sucking chest wound, use combat gauze, call in a nine-line medical evacuation or medevac request and how to use different carry techniques to evacuate casualties.
The course is broken up over the time span of two months and is geared toward first time learners and also soldiers who need to recertify as CLS’s.
“I really feel confident that after this course, if I ever have to do some of the stuff we learned that I’ll be less nervous, said Spc. Jasmine Owens, a food service specialist with the 442nd Military Police Company. “I definitely learned that a good CLS has to be persistent and to stay motivated no matter what.”
“We actually learned things here that we didn’t learn during the CLS course in Basic Combat Training,” Owens, a resident of Queens added. “The simulator really helped me, but the instructor’s really made the course very clear and helped me to retain the information I was learning.”