Navy corpsman, Army medics test field-combat skills

Courtesy Story

Date: 09.28.2005
Posted: 09.28.2005 17:39
News ID: 3141
Medical Rodeo

Spc. Robert Adams

Medical personnel took to the field to test their service skills and medical knowledge during a medical rodeo at Camp Arifjan Sept. 17. Five teams made up of Navy hospital corpsmen and Army medics from the 514th Medical Company (Ground Ambulance) and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 62nd Medical Brigade, worked together to complete four medical-oriented combat lanes and were graded on their performance.

"The focus was to mimic situations that are currently happening in Afghanistan and Iraq," said event leader Navy Lt. Glenn Barnes, Expeditionary Medical Facility-Dallas. "This increases their skill level, confidence and exposure in the combat field environment." Half of EMF-Dallas rotated out of Kuwait four days after the event, and this was the only field training the majority of the participants received during their deployment. "Most corpsmen don't have field experience and perform indoor work, so we wanted to bring them out in the field," said medical rodeo coordinator Navy Lt. Cmdr. Roy Seitz, EMF-Dallas.

"These guys work long hours in the hospital, most working 12-hour days, six days a week â?¦ performing hands-on patient care," said Navy Hospital Corpsman Chief Nelda Hidrago, EMF-Dallas operations chief. The evening prior to the event the teams received an operation order and were briefed on the overall situation, mission requirements and tasks involved. Each group was given an intelligence agent, whose responsibility was to assign missions, guide each team through the mission and serve as the lane safety.

"We are looking to see how observant they are and how they handle themselves in different situations," said Navy Cmdr. Joe Costabile, EMF-Dallas physician, who role-played as an intelligence agent and lane safety. "Most have little field experience, so this reinforces that trainingâ?¦ You never know when you'll get called up to support field units." While executing each lane each team had to perform basic service skills to include performing defensive perimeters, using code words, designating rally points and using different squad formations, fire maneuvers and fire distribution and control measures.

The teams also had to report enemy items of intelligence, communication equipment, weapons systems, enemy tactics, vehicle markings, live prisoners, enemy numbers and situation reports for all enemy contact. "They will be able to combine everything they learn and walk away with a better feel of doing it â?¦ because right now everyone is an infantryman and has to treat people in combat," said Staff Sgt. Ralph Sepulveda, HHC, Area Support Group-Kuwait troop medical clinic logistics noncommissioned officer. Armed with water balloons and tennis balls, role players played the opposing force which carried out suicide bombings, grenade and sniper attacks to try and disrupt the teams. In addition, screaming casualties were used to make things even more difficult and stressful.

"You never know what situations you will be in and you have to be prepared to adapt and overcome changes," said Spc. Dawn Pavel, HHC, 62nd Medical Bde. combat medic. "We have a great team â?¦ we work together well and take each others advice," he said. One mission was a search and rescue. The teams had to make contact, treat and take mass casualties to a collection point while under the high threat of an enemy contact. "We used good teamwork, saved some patients and completed our mission," said team one leader Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Edgar Nunez, EMF-Dallas hospital corpsman after the mass-casualty mission.

"We are prepared to treat patients â?¦ but this helps us think about the other stresses and fatigues of being out in the field." Another mission involved a sniper attack, where the team had to suppress fire and perform buddy movements to get around a sniper. Later in the mission they had to don their protective masks during a chemical attack. Teams also had to encounter an obstacle course which included low-crawling, multiple improvised explosive devices, mortar and grenade attacks, barbed wire, trip wires and an injured hostage situation.

The last lane involved teams navigating to specific points in search of a friendly wrecked vehicle with injured Soldiers, while being attacked by enemy targets. "I think we should have had this training a long time ago," said Navy HM2 Lolita Spangler, EMF-Dallas troop medical clinic corpsman. She added, "I know it's not for this area â?¦ but you never know where you are going to be."