Medical training builds partnerships, saves lives
February 3, 2012
WIESBADEN, Germany -- Bundeswehr Soldiers from Germany's Armed Forces United Training Center were challenged physically and mentally at the 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion's "Viper Pit" January 30 -- February 3, while conducting Combat Lifesaver training.
The week-long training -- three days of didactic and two days of hands-on trauma lanes -- introduced the 25 Bundeswehr Soldiers to U.S. combat lifesaver standards and was designed to prepare them to take the knowledge and skills back their organization, where they will train Soldiers and civilians preparing for deployment.
"I just received new instructors and searched for a unit to help me train my Soldiers," explained Capt. Carsten Dombrowski, the senior training officer for Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TC3) for the German Army. "Our liaison officer had a lot of experience working with the 421st MMB, so we asked to be their guests and everything has worked very well."
Staff Sgt. John Lacroix, a combat medic with the 421st MMB, has trained more than 700 Soldiers at the Viper Pit and said the opportunity to train Bundeswehr Soldiers who will be able to share their skills with other Soldiers has been great.
"About half of the class just got out of basic training and are infantry while the other half are seniors -- master sergeants and officers," Lacroix said. "We are actually going to certify them to the American combat lifesaver standard, and they will go on to teach other Bundeswehr soldiers. So it's a kind of train-the-trainer too."
Approximately 90 percent of combat deaths occur on the battlefield before the casualties reach a medical treatment facility, according to the CLS manual. Most of these deaths are inevitable due to massive trauma or massive head injuries. However, some conditions such as bleeding from a wound on an arm or leg, tension pneumothorax, and airway problems can be treated on the battlefield. These treatments can be the difference between being a combat death on the battlefield and a recovering Soldier in a hospital or clinic.
"Years ago tourniquet was the absolute last thing that you did and now it's the absolute first thing that you do. I think that the lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan -- a lot of experience and a lot of wisdom -- went into changing the program. Now our two main focuses are stopping bleeding with tourniquet and decompressing a tension pneumothorax," explained Lacroix.
Along with being good training, the time at the Viper Pit has also served as a unique opportunity to build partnerships and friendships between the German and American Soldiers.
"Many of them are privates, so it's their first contact with the U.S. Army. For them it's not only training, it's also knowledge of how the U.S. Army works and what the American-Soldier mentality is, so it's very interesting for them," Dombrowski said.
"We're doing this to build relations with the Bundeswehr and also to compare the way that they do medical treatment to how we handle things, which has been pretty interesting," said Lacroix. "We both do TC3 just about the same, but mostly I'm learning about treatment techniques and shortcuts, just different ways of doing things and we're teaching them at the same time."
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Fincham, 30th MEDCOM Public Affairs Operations NCO. For more information please contact him at email@example.com.