Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

April 14, 2017 at 6:46am

Medics train to save lives in a dynamic environment

Soldiers from Company C, 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, decontaminate simulated casualties during a Field Training Exercise on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, March 16. U.S. Army photo

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For five days in the cold, drizzling rain, sometimes working 20 hours non-stop, the soldiers of the Treatment and Evacuation platoons of C Company, 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, were evaluated on key medic skills during their recent field training exercise (FTX) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord from March 13-17.

The purpose of the training was to evaluate the platoons' mission essential task list (METL), which consists of providing direct support, area support, establishing ambulance exchange points (AXPs) and shuttle operations. This certification ensures the platoons of C Co., 296th BSB, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, are capable of providing the combat care needed in a hostile environment.

The medical care provided by C Co. is defined as prehospital care or casualty treatment in a tactical, combat environment. This varies from traditional civilian trauma care as many combat casualties can suffer from complex trauma that can include penetrating injuries and amputation, as opposed to blunt trauma seen in many civilian settings, according to the Tactical Combat Casualty Care Handbook from the Center for Army Lessons Learned. In previous conflicts, the majority of combat deaths occurred before a wounded soldier reached a treatment facility. This stresses the importance of treating casualties at the point of injury and transitioning wounded as quickly as possible to a treatment facility.

"We evacuated casualties from the notional line units and provided en-route care while we transported them to the Role II (Medical Company) and Role III (Combat Support Hospital)," said 1st. Lt. John Gigante, platoon leader for the evacuation platoon, C Co. "We ran these missions while exposed to dynamic elements such as operating at night, reacting to opposing forces, indirect fire or IDF from artillery or mortars, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) threats."

The training builds upon the medics' existing skills, reinforcing their capabilities in order for the entire medical company to operate confidently, tactically and efficiently, Gigante explained. With a significant portion of his platoon participating in Pacific Pathways, and receiving an influx of newer soldiers, taking advantage of this type of training opportunity is important.

"It allows the more experienced soldiers to demonstrate the necessary skills to accomplish these missions, and that we can operate effectively without the entire platoon," Gigante said. "We are flexible, resilient and capable."

Staff Sgt. Stanley Brown, C Co. aid station non-commissioned officer in charge, said it is necessary to re-create the potential operating environments in which they may deploy to in the future - to include a potential CBRN situation.

"This helps to prepare soldiers for the rigors of a deployment - everything from the combat gear you are wearing to the accountability for a weapon and sensitive items," Brown said. "In our line of work, there is a very high emphasis on preserving life, and the health of our brothers and sisters in arms to conserve fighting strength."

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