Service members learn to save lives
September 8, 2009
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - The Sgt. 1st Class Tricia L. Jameson Combat Medic Training Center on Joint Base Balad continuously offers a three-day combat lifesaver course to service members stationed in all areas of Iraq.
The 40-hour CLS course teaches students enhanced first-aid and selected medical procedures such as initiating an intravenous infusion, performing a needle-chest decompression of a tension pneumothorax, and preparing casualties for evacuation.
The course is taught roughly three to four times each month, with roughly 30 service members each iteration.
Maj. Charles W. Wallace, the staff judge advocate for the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), was one of these, and completed the CLS course Sept. 2.
The class also learned tactical field care, both casualty evacuation and medical evacuation, how to insert a nasopharyngeal adjunct, how to control bleeding, assess a patient, and fill out a casualty card, said Wallace, a native of Greenwood, Ind.
Sgt. Justin D. Rakes, an instructor for the CLS course, said the first two days are taught to break the skills down and familiarize the students with them in the classroom. Students practice hands-on in the classroom and in the mass casualty evacuation exercise the final day.
Of course there is no substitute for a combat situation, but the MASCAL exercise is as realistic and stressful as possible, given the realities of the situation, said Rakes, an Atlanta native.
Sgt. Michael J. Welsh, an instructor for the CLS course, said CLS-qualified Soldiers are invaluable on the battlefield, as well as a force multiplier because they can start IV's and get patients ready for evacuation. This frees medics to do other things.
"It's like having multiple hands," said Welsh, an Albuquerque, N.M. native . "You know you can rely on the CLS and the skills they know in order to help you do your own job."
Roughly 10 to 12 percent of deaths in Iraq are preventable, and the CLS course is here to help eliminate that, said Welsh.
Welsh also said hemorrhage control is a key point in class, as uncontrolled bleeding is the number one cause of preventable death on the battlefield.
Learning happens on both sides of the classroom. As the instructors create trained, CLS-qualified service members, they learn more about their own field, Rakes said.
"The more you teach, the more experienced you become," said Rakes, "You never know what you might learn from your students. They have a wide range of experiences."
Spc. Amber M. Booth, an ammunition specialist for the 23rd Ordnance Company, and a Griffin, Ga. native, completed the CLS course Sept. 2 as well.
"I would recommend this course to every Soldier coming into the Army because I think everybody should be CLS qualified, no matter who you are or what your job title is," said Booth.
The staff, composed entirely of non-commissioned officers, frequently teaches service members with more time in service and rank than themselves.
Wallace said, "I got a great lesson in leadership and I learned practical skills that could save someone's life."
The next CLS course starts Sept. 14.