By Jim Hinnant, 401st Army Field Support BrigadeAugust 22, 2008
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Aug. 20, 2008) Ac"a,! "You're under fire, what are you going to do'"
This is the question assistant training facilitator, Sgt. Charreise Lewandowski shouted in the ear of Department of the Army civilian employee Ted Shelton as he faced a deployed person's worst nightmare - a battlefield casualty with multiple life-threatening injuries.
Along with six members of the New Zealand National Support Element and seven Soldiers from the Bagram Airfield-based Task Force Warrior, Shelton and five other members of the 401st Army Field Support Brigade completed Combat Lifesaver training here, learning combat-oriented first responder skills that will enable them to provide treatment and enhance the survivability of a battlefield trauma patient.
"We're here to teach applicable skills of combat medicine in a conducive, hands-on environment," said Marc Kline, training facilitator with Computer Sciences Corp. "We're teaching trauma-focused Level I patient assessment, validation and treatment."
Held at the Medical Simulation Training Center, Aug. 18-20, the CLS course packed 32 hours of intense classroom and practical instruction into a 3-day span, using some of the most up-to-date training technology available.
With expert classroom instruction presented by Kline and Tad Gow of CSC, the students learned a host of information, learned hands-on skills such as administering intravenous drips to each other, and had those skills put to the test during realistic individual and collective scenarios.
On the second day of the course students faced the Individual Skills Assessment, where they entered a darkened room, and faced the chaos of near-combat, thanks to a large-screen video and booming sound system.
Asked for the reasoning behind all the noise and confusion during this phase, Kline said it was to induce stress in the exercise, which required students to assess, treat, and call for the evacuation of a combat casualty with multiple trauma in a compressed (15 minutes) time period.
The ISA is also where they encountered "Stan the METI Man" - a human patient simulator that can be programmed to replicate trauma and appropriately respond to treatment by the student.
The Medical Technology Inc. training tool does practically everything an injured human does, from "bleeding" profusely to blinking his sky-blue eyes in pain as his chest rises and falls (or doesn't, depending on his injuries.)
Captain Shari Carter, Brigade TAC, S4 (Logistics) officer, found the training, particularly the combat-like scenarios, to be as realistic as anything she had seen.
"This is by far the best training I have seen like this," Carter said of the ISA. "It's as close as you can get to actually having someone bleed to death on you."
According to Gow, in addition to classes here, CLS training is also available to units in Afghanistan at Camp Phoenix and Forward Operating Base Salerno; and at Camp
Buehring for units deploying into Iraq through Kuwait.
On the final day of training, student had to pass a written exam and complete a group exercise where they put all the skills learned in the course to the test.
In teams of four, the students moved under simulated fire to a building where they had to secure and extract a casualty, remove him to a safe location for Level I trauma care, and then further move him to a site for helicopter evacuation...all in 45 minutes.
Shelton said the training was especially valuable for him, the other Army civilian and two contractors who took the training.
"DA civilians and contractors don't normally get this kind of opportunity," he said. The realistic, hands-on training prepared us for exactly what we may face here in the combat environment."
According to Shelton, who serves as the 3rd Battalion, 401st AFSB Operations and Intelligence chief, all the students passed the course, which he said couldn't have come at better time for him and the other members of the brigade.
"Since I've been here, there have been several cases of rocket or mortar fire, and in the last one a rocket landed very close to our area," said Shelton. "This training would have helped us react properly had anyone been wounded during any of those attacks."