Approximately 200,000 adults and children could be saved each year if cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed early enough, but few people get the basic first aid training needed.

In the event of an accident or natural disaster, knowing first aid could save lives before first responders are even dispatched to the scene.

First-aid training is also vitally important within the military since an injured person could be hours from a doctor or hospital, so their life depends on aid administered by someone on their team.

The Medical Support Training Center of Fort Bliss, Texas, provides training for both medical and non-medical personnel. The MSTCs are designed to better prepare Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and even Department of Defense employees for the application of medical interventions under the most extreme conditions.

The MSTC, pronounced "mystic," is provided through the Army's Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation with funding for real medical supplies through the Army Medical Department. It combines cutting-edge simulators with experienced Army medics and civilian contractors to make battlefield medical treatment seem as real as possible.

"We do 15 to 16 combat life saver classes per year, and when you do anything repetitively, you get better at it," said Army Staff Sgt. Kenneth Lafnear, a combat medic and noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the Fort Bliss MSTC. "We do this all the time, so we are able to provide a better product than someone who just does a CLS class once a year."

The training provided by the MSTC staff helps military leaders ensure their unit is fully trained and ready for deployment.

"As noncommissioned officers, what we do is instruct and lead, so coming here as an assistant instructor to teach classes and go over the skills gives us a chance to gain confidence. When we go back to our units, it is easier to conduct training," said Army Sgt. Michael Allen, a medic with 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, at Fort Bliss, Texas, tasked to MSTC as an assistant instructor.

The MSTC, through PEO-STRI, has the funding and staff to provide Emergency Care Simulators; training dummies that simulate human bleeding, breathing and other responses for medical training; and the Multiple Amputation Trauma Trainer, with dummies that bleed from amputated leg wounds. All designed to give hands-on experience to trainees.

"I think this facility is a great asset that gives medics the opportunity to train with things they wouldn't normally get to, like the mannequins that respond to treatment," said Allen. "You can't get that in a battalion or company environment. The training here is the closest you can get to real-world medical patients and treating casualties."

The facility is accredited through Army Medical Department at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The AMEDD evaluates and certifies the schedule and training conducted by the MSTC, so the site is able to provide two-year recertification for the 1,328 medics at Fort Bliss and host the base Combat Life Saver class, but the quality of training provided by the MSTC attracts customers from many branches of military and even civilian agencies.

"We have Air Force, Marines and even some of the El Paso (Texas) SWAT and Homeland Security come through here to see how the Army does medicine," said Lafnear.

The Operational Contracting Support Joint Exercise 2014 command is the most recent group to take advantage of the realistic training by sending approximately 160 of the participants through a two-day course of classroom and hands-on training.

The participants learned how to assess a casualty, apply emergency trauma dressing, combat gauze, and tourniquets, how to clear an object from the throat and insert a nasopharyngeal airway to restore breathing. Participants also learned how to fill in a casualty care card, evacuate a casualty using a litter, request medical evacuation and relieve tension pneumothorax from a collapsed lung.

"They learn how to do it all in the classroom, then perform it on the dummies," said Lafnear.

While the joint exercise is focused on improving the contracting process a federal emergency response, the medical training helps to prepare operational contracting support specialists with extra skills in the event of a disaster.

"For the mission we are on, the in-depth training definitely prepares us," said Air Force Master Sgt. Amber Hale, a contracting specialist with Naval Facility Support Fleet, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. "(In the event of) an actual disaster, we would be better prepared to do our jobs. We could be traveling somewhere and if our medic gets injured, then one of us will be able to step up to provide aid."

The level of training at the MSTC is not normally available to contingency contracting officers and specialists at their home stations, so coming to Fort Bliss for OCSJX-14 gave them an opportunity to save money by getting extra training.

"We are much smaller and our assets are more limited, so being able to come here and get this level of medical training is invaluable in preparing us with skills we need," said Army Maj. Matthew Davis, team leader of the 726th Contingency Contracting Team at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.

The medical training builds on the skills that OCSJX-14 participants have to better prepare them for emergencies; skills learned that can be called upon at any time to help save a life.

"This training makes us realize that while we are contracting officers, we are still military service members," said Davis. "We can't detach ourselves from having these necessary skills to perform our military functions, so they are tied together to make a whole contracting officer into a better service member to ensure the mission gets complete."

"Even at home station, accidents happen all the time, so I feel this training is very beneficial," Hale said.

Page last updated Tue January 28th, 2014 at 00:00