JBLM'S Medical Simulation Training Center refreshes medical skills

By Spc. Loren Cook/5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment on March 10, 2012

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - An air raid siren rang out from speakers, its wailing tones nearly drowned out by the sounds of a ferocious firefight taking place all around them. Shouted orders and plaintive cries for help competed for supremacy with the sounds of emergency vehicles rushing to the scene. Above it all, the sound of gunfire reigned supreme.

In the midst of the confusion, two soldiers knelt over a prone casualty, calmly but quickly applying medical care under fire.

One soldier applied a tourniquet to the casualty's amputated leg, while the other put a tube in his nose, allowing him to breathe. The soldiers stuck a needle in the casualty's chest, wrapped him in a blanket, and lifted him onto a stretcher.

Carrying the stretcher, the soldiers rushed to the casualty collection point.

"Good job," an instructor said. "Cut the sound!"

The sounds of a pitched firefight halted, replaced by the peace and quiet of an average day on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The casualty-a first aid training dummy-was reset for the next training scenario.

Scenarios like this are all in a day's work for the soldiers and civilians of the Medical Simulation Training Center.

At the MSTC, medics attend Table Eight training-an Emergency Medical Technician recertification course-every year.

"This training keeps us abreast in our skills," said Sgt. Joshua Long, a medic with the 547th Medical Company, and an instructor at the MSTC.

Some medics may be assigned to other tasks, but annual recertification allows these medics to remain knowledgeable in their skills.

"Every two years, every medic has to certify with the national registry, so having this training every year helps refresh your skills if you're a medic who doesn't always use your skills," said Sgt. Austin Smith, a medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 62nd Medical Brigade. "It also keeps you up to date on any new changes or new requirements.

It's very important training, because if you ever have to save a life, you have to do it right or you might lose a patient."

The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians requires 72 hours of instruction every two years to remain certified, said Tom Pingel, director of the Table Eight course at the MSTC.

"The Table Eight training is 48 hours of instruction every year, so medics actually get 96 hours every two years," Pingel said.

Since the training received at the MSTC exceeds the requirements for the national registry, each of the 1,500 active-duty medics stationed at JBLM automatically retains their certification-an important requirement for any medic.

"Being nationally certified is important because on and off post, on and off-duty hours, in any state, you're always able to help in a live situation," Smith said.

PHOTO: hoto by Spc. Loren Cook

Staff Sgt. Teresa Greening and Sgt. Joshua Long, instructors at the Medical Simulation Training Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., prepare to lift a stretcher with a simulated casualty while demonstrating the trauma lanes at the MSTC, March 8. Training received at the MSTC allows medics to retain their emergency medical technician certification with the national registry.