CAMP SHELBY, Miss. -- Training Soldiers for mission readiness is a priority for First Army Division East. In an effort to certify all Soldiers for observe, coach and train responsibilities, the 177th Armored Brigade, with the help of the 158th Infantry Brigade medical team, is recertifying all trainers in current combat lifesaving techniques.
"With our Soldiers being senior leaders, we have individually had exposure at one point of our careers with treating casualties in a tactical environment," said Staff Sgt. Joseph M. Miller, a Soldier from 2nd Battalion, 410th Field Artillery. "It's important to train and stay fresh, and in case a real-world emergency happens during training field artillery units we are aware of the updated procedures to take action."
Soldiers of the 177th AR Bde complete 40 class hours in the combat lifesaver certification course. Even though the course follows the crawl-walk-run method of training, the first day gives dubious challenges for any Soldier.
CLS training in tactical field care offers every non-medical Soldier the training to save lives. The Army's integration of this necessary awareness training developed over the past ten years due to the amount of fatalities from blood loss as a result of improper, or absent wound care in field, said Capt. Jason S. Comerford, native of Palm Bay, Fl., and medical services officer, 158th Infantry Brigade.
Comerford, in his civilian career, runs a chiropractic practice. He is also a professor of anatomy, physiology, biology and chemistry at a community college in Palm Bay and instructs at Keiser College.
"Training non-medical personnel in life saving steps before they get to medical care is imperative, and multiplies a casualty's chances of survival," said Comerford.
The course began with classroom training on basic combat lifesaving skills. The medical team introduced methods in tactical combat casualty care, care for casualties under fire, and tactical field casualty care.
The practical exercise came next. These skills included covering the casualty tactically to protect them from further injury, controlling bleeding, treating penetrating chest trauma, and opening, and managing, a casualty's airway.
"We don't always have an Army trained medic during operations and patrols where life threatening injuries are likely to happen," said Miller."As non-medical Soldiers, the CLS training requirement allows all of us to be trained to assist with casualty care."
With a class strongly geared toward "train-as-you-fight," Soldiers wear full tactical combat gear attending the second and third day of the CLS course.
'Tactical gear increases the weight of a fully-equipped Soldier," said Sgt. First Class Jeremiah J. Christy, native of Rayford Fl., combat medic observer-coach/ trainer, 158th IN Bde medical team. "Drag strap mechanisms are designed to work in conjunction with straps on tactical gear."
Methods of how to effectively evacuate a casualty from harm is instructed, and then exercised in repetition during the 'walk phase" of the training.
"It is a difficult course, and necessary to pay attention to detail," said Miller. "The momentum and the stress of the course simulate the tactical environment."
The second day of training provided exposure to medical casualty evacuation, proper initiation of a field medical card and methods of requesting medical evacuation. Small group practical exercises centered on tactical casualty movement with casualty carries' and operation of diverse litter systems.
'Army tactical field care procedures contrast from procedures performed in civilian trauma care," said Christy. "Our team, using their medical knowledge, instruct evacuation techniques with great regard to safety."
Soldiers gathered to watch instructors exhibit several one-man and two-man drag strap mechanisms. Christy, with a strap attached to his belt and a casualty, shifted his body weight backward and quickly pulls a volunteer across the smooth concrete floor of the CLS classroom. Keeping both hands free and firmly to a rifle, he demonstrates the ability of providing security in all sectors of fire.
"The new methods in the course's segment on casualty carry procedures were changed in 2010," said Christy."The fireman's carry method was subtracted from the CLS field manual due to its execution sometimes causing harm."
During the casualty evacuation segment the O-C/Ts instruct from a well-versed medical standpoint, explaining the cause and effect of bodily injury due to performing an improper carry, or misuse of CASEVAC equipment.
"This medical team of O-C/T instructors are from an Army Reserve component," said Miller. "Not only do they practice their discipline with great skill for the Army, all members of the medical team hold civilian occupations in various areas of the medical field."
The medical O-C/Ts' accompanied the small group practical exercises giving attentive on-the-spot advice and corrections.
Soldiers walked through a casualty care cumulative exercise to prepare for the final challenge of day three. The final exercise integrated every combat lifesaving skill, implementing training in fast-paced, stress test.
"Instructing all Soldiers in CLS medical awareness is one of the greatest ideas the Army has had, in my opinion," said Miller. "Implementing the CLS training requirement reduces fatalities. Over-all that increases the effectiveness of the Army."
First Army Division East, in partnership with the USAR and ARNG, advises, assists and trains Reserve Component Forces, in both pre and post mobilization through multi- component integrated collective training, in accordance with Army Total Force Policy, Department of the Army, FORSCOM and First Army directives in order to achieve ARFORGEN directed readiness requirements.