Story and photos by Staff Sgt. David House, 85th Civil Affairs Brigade Public Affairs

Out of the classroom and into a stressful field environment. That is what students of the Killeen Independent School District Career Center found themselves in when they arrived to Fort Hood to conduct hands on medical training with members of the 81st Civil Affairs Battalion April 23.

Situated at the Medical Simulation Training Center, eight KISD students had the opportunity to expand their medical knowledge and to demonstrate what they have learned throughout the school year. For some, getting out and seeing what others are doing in the medical field helped bring everything together.

"This is definitely different from just reading a book," said Yarima Bermudez, a medical sciences student with the KISD Career Center. "Being able to get hands on and learn how the Soldiers do it has been a valuable experience."

Despite the intimidation of the military equipment, the Soldiers were there to make sure the students were trained and that they discovered what the Army uses is really no different from what they would use as a civilian medic.

"It's all about confidence," said Pvt. 1st Class Andrew Shoats, a medic assigned to the 81st CA Bn. "I think these students are well prepared and with them coming out here and working with us gave them a confidence boost so that they are able to transition directly from the classroom and into a field environment without much of a problem."

Being able to get the students out of their classroom comfort zone was another way that the Soldiers were able to test the students and ensure they were able to handle the situation when faced with unknown equipment, environment and patients.

"Confidence in themselves as well as their equipment is something that I tried to hit home with them," added Spc. Peter Blanco, a medic also with the 81st. "All the yelling I did was to keep the pressure on them to see how they responded and they handled it quite well."

The yelling was only a fraction of the pressure that the students encountered when conducting the hands on portion of the training. Everything ultimately revolved around the stopwatch.

"There is going to be a lot of stress, a lot of pressure," said Jesus Ballesteros, KISD Career Center student. "Here you have to move very quickly unlike a classroom where you can take your time and are able to make mistakes. In the real world you can't afford to make those mistakes and every second is precious."

The one situation that caught all of the students off guard was the vehicle extraction process and how difficult it can be.

"Providing aid to the dummy and getting it out was the hardest portion," said Bermudez. "This was way different from the (medical) dummy that we have in the classroom. Ours maybe weighs 100 pounds while this one I was told is 250 pounds and trying to extract it from the vehicle involved a lot of muscle and a lot of team work."

The students will continue to train and hone their medical skills with the assistance of the Soldiers from the 81st Civil Affairs Battalion and most students will test for their Emergency Medical Technician certification before the school year ends.