By Mr. Stephen Standifird (Leonard Wood)November 12, 2015
When units on Fort Leonard Wood plan a training exercise that will include injuries needing to look as realistic as possible, a small group of volunteers get the call.
The volunteers, mostly employees of General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital, gather their gear and provide the moulage skills to make a gunshot wound actually look like a gunshot wound.
The leader of the group, Starla Brookshire, has no medical training, but was asked if she wanted to give it a try. That was 12 years ago, and she has been hooked ever since.
"I had an interest, but no background," the outpatient coder at GLWACH said. "I was taught to just get in there and do it."
Moulage is the art of applying fake injuries specifically for the purpose of training, a skill that gets called into play a few times a year here.
"We usually do two a year, but this year I've done three," Brookshire said. "We've done everything from tornadoes to bus wrecks, to buildings blowing up to plane crashes."
Their skills were needed recently during an active-shooter exercise involving 20 casualties. They were given injuries that included gunshot wounds and lacerations.
One of the newest members said the exercise was a great way to be introduced to the team.
"They gave me a quick crash course on how to make things look a certain way," said Staff Sgt. Margaret Strecker, laboratory technician Blood Donor Center. "I'm pleased with how it looked for being my first time doing something like this."
They use prosthetic wounds, putty, spirit gum and apply plenty of make up and fake blood to make the injuries look as real as possible, Brookshire said.
The part Brookshire said she likes the most is getting to stick around and watch the reactions her handiwork creates.
"We all get to stay and watch how the MPs, fire department and ambulance crews react," she said. "Unfortunately, I love blood so the fire department hates me, the ambulance crews hate me, because the fake blood we use does stain their clothing. The reason I like it so much is it looks more realistic."
With the exercise over, both Brookshire and Strecker plan on doing more research in anticipation of the next time they are called to use their moulage skills.
"I'm looking forward to next time, so I'm going to do some research on the Internet," Strecker said.
"Just practice," Brookshire said. "Think of new things to try and play on the Internet to see how I could make those injuries."