2-14 Infantry medics train in austere conditions
February 22, 2012
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Twenty-nine medics took part in a three-day training exercise, in which they learned, rehearsed and executed rough-terrain casualty evacuations. The training spectrum included initial battlefield casualty evaluation, alpine techniques and casualty evacuation.
"Today's exercise is to give the medics a chance to learn how to extricate patients from rough terrain," said Sgt. 1st Class Ian Francis, medical platoon sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2-14 Infantry. "They will better understand the techniques and procedures they can use to extricate a patient to wherever the medical evacuation site might be."
Francis explained that this wasn't just a training lane. It was meant to introduce these medics to some of the challenges that their predecessors in World War II experienced.
"The fights of Riva Ridge, Mount Belvedere, Mount Gorgolesco and della Torracia introduced medical care challenges to the 10th Mountain Division, which we still face today in the mountains of Afghan-istan," he said.
Instruction began with an introduction to knot tying, where students learned the bowline, in-line figure 8 and retraceable figure 8, among others. Additional instruction included manufacturing improvised rope litters, Swiss seats, and alternate casualty carry techniques.
"My role is to assist these Soldiers on how to set up a system, tie different knots, and use the lowering system," said Pfc. Scott Gallagher, an instructor who pre- viously completed the Rough Terrain Evacuation Course at the Mountain Warfare School in Vermont. "I teach them how to lower a casualty in rough terrain like a hill or slope."
For most of the students, the familiar task of moving a wounded Soldier became much more challenging when each training task was combined.
The technical tasks of evaluating and treating a casualty, combined with the physical exertion of moving a 185-pound casualty plus body armor, was definitely harder than expected, according to Spc. Jonathon Bocanegra, a medic from HHC, 2-14 Infantry.
After learning the basics, Soldiers received their mission to move their casualties from the base of the hill to the top using a two-man anchor technique. Communication was the key to their success. Verbal commands helped each team exert maximum effort in precise unison with each other in order to maximize their energy expenditure.
"We had to learn to communicate with commands keeping us in synch," Bocanegra said. "That was a great benefit to the training -- getting out and training in (terrain similar to what) we'll face in combat was really beneficial."
Francis, who has 14 years of emergency medical technician experience, understands the importance of this type of training.
"I have had to rescue patients from just about every environment: snow, ice, up on hills, down in trenches," he said. "So, I have seen this done several times. I understand the importance of this training."
On the final day of training, the platoon performed casualty extraction competitions to solidify what each team member had learned.
"All of my coworkers are doing very well and are taking this (training) very seriously," said Pfc. Daniel Phillips, a medic with C Company, 2-14 Infantry. "I feel very comfortable going overseas with them."
Francis previously referenced a series of battles during WWII in which the 10th Mountain Division suffered more than 900 casualties.
"This training was meant to prepare these medics for that reality. As 2-14 Infantry medics prepare to deploy to the Joint Readiness Training Center, (Fort Polk, La.), it was the perfect time to increase the level of preparedness in advance of their future deployment to Afghanistan," he said.