Soldiers called to train for Air National Guard mission
July 26, 2010
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- Two active duty Soldiers from Fort Huachuca have been requested to assist the Air National Guard with annual combat lifesaver training.
In May, Chief Master Sgt. Julie Eddings, health systems specialist for the Oregon Air National Guard, contacted her sister, Spc. Jean Stivers, a medic with Company A, 309th Military Intelligence Battalion, and asked her if the battalion could spare any of their three combat medics to assist with training for an upcoming Patriot 10 mission. Approval, which consisted of a verbal agreement between the 309th MI Battalion and the Oregon Air National Guard, was granted the middle of June.
Company A Commander, Capt. Christina Bowser, elected to send Sgt. Russell Moss, the company's combat medic, and Sgt. Gary Durham, chaplain's assistant, who has combat lifesaver's training and will be assisting Moss.
"For Air National Guard to cross over and ask active Army to give them support and assistance or training is highly unheard of and very rare," Bowser explained. "Usually they might ask their Army National Guard unit in the area, but that's because of how they're putting this together; they want the people who use it [the training] the most to be the trainers and observer controllers."
Moss and Durham are training with an element of the 181st medical group Air National Guard from Indiana, along with the 142nd medical group Air National Guard from Oregon, at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, in Wisconsin.
On July 9, Moss and Durham flew to Oregon, joined the 142nd and flew to Wisconsin, where they met up with the 181st.
"You have a joint and international flavor in this mission," Bowser explained, noting Moss and Durham are teaching the combat life savers course to Soldiers, nurses, and Dutch and Canadian soldiers, medics and physicians.
"It gives them (Moss and Durham) training and an opportunity to do something they never had the chance to do in their military career," Bowser said, adding, that it also gives them a wealth of contacts, such as people in their own career field with whom they can exchange ideas, as well as learn techniques and procedures they're doing across the board.
"Each service does something a little bit different; they don't teach and train the same," Bowser added.
Moss noted everyone in the Army is required to be CLS qualified. He describes his role as a combat medic as "me teaching people how to help me." Basically if Moss "goes down," he has Soldiers who can treat him, and if he has five casualties, he also has helping hands.
Moss's job as a company medic is to train privates who recently graduated from Advanced Individual Training.
One aspect he teaches them is to avoid having tunnel vision. For example, they may have a patient who has a gunshot wound, but they shouldn't be focused on that wound until they make sure there's no other hemorrhaging on the patient's body. He teaches Soldiers to prioritize injuries, which is also known as triage.
"Triage in combat is critical because it's not like being in an ER (emergency room)," he noted, adding different procedures are taken in a combat zone than would be taken in the civilian world.
For example, the last thing a civilian paramedic would do is put on is a tourniquet because it's considered a last resort.
Moss explained that most of the time when a tourniquet is used, there's a good chance the patient is going to lose the limb.
"In combat we teach [them] to put the tourniquet on first and get them [the wounded] en route, and if we need to take the tourniquet off we'll take it off," he explained, adding, "we want to get that on first to stop the bleeding," he said, noting, "From those who could have been saved, the number-one reason that people die is from bleeding out."
Moss explained one the benefits of teaching CLS to nurses and doctors is to teach them if they're not in a hospital where supplies are abundant, they can still treat a patient quickly and efficiently.
"They go so in-depth in their treating, but we're not worried about that, because the longer we're on the ground, the more in danger we are. The faster we can treat them and get them to higher care, the [safer] everyone else is going to be," he explained. "What we teach is 'missions first.' So if we're under attack, then that is their objective."
Moss noted that being downrange as a combat medic is not the same as being a paramedic or emergency medical technician in the U.S., where they arrive on the scene, put the patient on a stretcher, load them in an ambulance, and leave.
"[The medics] have to be able to treat on the scene because they could be under fire and can't get [the patient] out right away," Bowser added.
"My job as a medic is to treat and go," Moss explained, "so [we] treat the life-threatening injuries and get them to those physicians and doctors. Our main purpose is to get them treated before we can go."
Moss anticipates a challenge when teaching students of different knowledge levels. He said he will explain from the beginning that he doesn't want to insult anyone's intelligence, but he's there to teach the standard. "I will teach [them] how to treat on the ground," he explains. "They may know more than the standard or less, but that's not for me to dictate."
The medics in the 309th MI Bn. are responsible for supporting the battalion during events such as field training exercises, changes of command and responsibilities, and brigade runs.
"It's a wonderful training opportunity for these guys," Bowser said, noting, "They're active duty medics, and what better way to train other medics than to do a cross-service training with another unit. Regardless if they're Air National Guard, the fact is that they will benefit immensely from the training." She added that for the Soldiers to be able to train in this instance is almost unheard of.
Moss and Durham will return to Fort Huachuca Saturday. Moss said he hopes this opportunity to work with a variety of students has been beneficial to his job by helping with his training skills.