Running the gauntlet
June 26, 2013
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - "Packhorse" soldiers enhanced their combat lifesavers skills during the Guardian Gauntlet, a two-day medical course at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, June 18-19.
During the first day of the training, healthcare specialists assigned to 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, guided the battalion through a practical review of medical skills learned during CLS training.
By constantly training, soldiers eliminate the opportunity for skills to atrophy, said Spc. Victoria Bertke, healthcare specialist, Company C.
"This class helps us develop the other soldiers in our battalion, and gain confidence in their abilities," Berke said. "Everyone is already CLS certified and has a good baseline of understanding, but the hands-on aspects of this class drive home the importance of what we are teaching."
On day two, troops conducted a practical exercise designed to highlight the real- world importance of their lessons. In groups of two, soldiers moved tactically through the Camp Buehring training area, assisting casualties, responding to enemy fire, and reacting to gas attacks.
Berke said the soldiers demonstrated both competence and confidence in their abilities during the gauntlet.
"The more these soldiers practice, the more confident they become, and the more we can rely on them during real world operations," she said. "We can never have full control of a situation, so it's good to know that we have well trained combat lifesavers at our side."
The Packhorse troops also learned how to clear airways and perform saline locks, procedures normally reserved for medical personnel.
"In some situations, there may only be one or two medics to treat multiple casualties," said Spc. Tamika Craig, food service specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Company. "In those situations, soldiers have to step up and perform these procedures with a minimal amount of supervision from the medics."
Craig said she would like to continue conducting the in-depth training annually, in addition to mandated CLS classes. Soldiers learn and maintain skills most effectively when they see their applications first hand, said Sgt. Jessica Kujawski, ammunition specialist, Company A.
"You can show somebody how to do something 100 times, but the best way for someone to learn is to do it themselves," Kujawski said.
The 4th BSB medics began hosting the Guardian Gauntlet for their fellow Packhorse soldiers shortly after deploying to Kuwait, and will continue training for the remainder of their deployment.
In addition to enhancing troop's medical expertise, the gauntlet also validated the Company C medics' confidence in the combat lifesavers' skills, said 1st Lt. Zachary Patterson, medical services officer and evacuation platoon leader, Company C.
"This course is not only designed to build confidence in the CLS certified soldier's ability, but to provide an advanced medical skill set that one day might be needed in a mass casualty situation," he said. "This training truly makes the CLS soldier a force multiplier, who can potentially save lives."