By Mrs. Melissa K Buckley (Leonard Wood)October 31, 2013
When the Sapper Leader Course medics began their careers as 68W Health Care Specialists they never thought they would be playing a major role in turning Soldiers into Sappers -- much less persevering through each class, right beside the students.
But Sgt. Jamie Stine, Sapper Leader Course medic, wouldn't have it any other way.
"I get to do all of the training the Sappers do. I get paid to helocast from helicopters, rappel and patrol through the woods. It's stuff I wouldn't get to do at a regular unit. I think it's really cool," Stine said.
Stine said he loves his job and finds pride in it.
"I get to help turn out 32 highly-trained Soldiers a month. It's pretty amazing," Stine said. "They are sent down range to do stuff that I am not doing right now, so it's fulfilling."
The Sapper Leader Course medics provide morning sick call, medical support during high-risk training events and monitor the candidates' medical records.
"Medics teach Advanced Medical Techniques class, which is a part of Sapper Leader Course's Program of Instruction. They are invaluable members of the Sapper team," said Capt. Matvey Vikhrov, Sapper Leader Course chief of training.
The three medics that support the Sapper Leader Course are with the candidates every step of the way -- literally.
"When there is a Sapper hanging from a rope, running through the tree line or using demolitions, we are right there with them. During the Patrolling Phase we are with them 24-hours a day," said Staff Sgt. Benjamin DeVries, Sapper Leader Course senior medic.
DeVries decided since he is with the candidates so much, he should wear a Sapper tab, too.
"I tried the program back in May and was injured. I am looking forward to trying again in the next three or four months," DeVries said.
A normal shift for the medics starts at 3:30 a.m. and lasts 16 to 24 hours. DeVries said he knew the job would require long hours when he accepted it.
"Some other medics here on Fort Leonard Wood turned down this position, because they knew it would be long hours. This job has its stressful moments, but I don't mind it," he said.
Being by the Sapper candidates' side through the entire class has helped the medics learn how to identify injuries when they are still minor and treatable.
"For instance, during cliff day and tower day, we know we will burn through adhesive bandages because of rope burns. During the ruck march we have a medic walking right behind the Sapper candidates. We can tell just by how they are stepping who is getting hot spots or blisters on their feet," DeVries said.
Sometimes the injuries hinder the candidates so badly they can't finish the class. Others have injuries and want to push through anyway.
"I have had students who have injuries that are kind of borderline. Based on what kind of student they are, we can make a decision to keep them around and help them along," Stine said. "It's fulfilling to watch them graduate, knowing you could have dropped them."