FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Forty-one Soldiers from the 18th Field Artillery Brigade assembled at the Fort Bragg Training Support Center to kick start the Steel First Responder Program on Feb. 29 and through March 4.
The "Steel" Brigade seeks to increase each Soldiers' first aid capabilities to ensure better and quicker medical attention during future missions. High Mobility Artillery Rocket System crews and other brigade personnel often operate in austere environments, making it essential that Soldiers are trained at the highest level possible to provide quality first aid to each other during medical emergencies.
First Lt. Christopher Childs, the brigade medical officer, oversaw the weeklong training event.
"We wanted to give Soldiers a more in-depth look at the Combat Lifesaver program and give them the confidence and abilities to operate in isolated environments," said Childs. "As a HIMARS brigade, when the launchers go out, they're typically alone and a good distance away from medics. To minimize the Golden Hour, the initial hour to effectively treat a casualty, which is proven to save lives, you want to give your first line responders the greatest chance, within their scope of training, to save lives."
"For this being the first SFRP, there was nothing but positive reaction, not only from the students, but also the cadre," added Childs. "Some of the students have said this has been the best medical training they've received on the CLS level."
Students were taught a wide variety of first aid and combat casualty care, including the use of tourniquets, opening air ways, treating open chest wounds and missing limbs, and methods to carrying a casualty.
Spc. Jordan Morales, a medic with the 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment, taught a number of the classes as well as the practical exercises during SFRP.
"My goal during SFPR was to teach the students CLS and basic Tactical Combat Casualty Care," said Morales. "We definitely hit our mark at the end of the evaluations and everyone passed. They all did well in the lanes and got their CPR certificates. At the end of the class during our after-action-review, a lot of the students said this was the most in depth CLS class they had ever taken before."
"All of the Soldiers were really enthusiastic to be in the training," continued Morales. "We put them in a stressful environment and made them move with a purpose, but slow is smooth and smooth is fast. It was very successful. This is the most fun CLS class I've ever taught."
Treating combat wounds wasn't the only thing the students were taught. The Soldiers learned how to continue to care for casualties while reacting to direct and indirect fire and transporting a casualty through a hostile environment.
Sgt. Brittany Johnston, a gunner in Able Battery, 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment, completed the course as one of the top three students.
"A lot of training can be drawn out and have spare time throughout it, but this training was the perfect amount of time," said Johnston. "Everything we were taught was valuable and I personally liked the IV training and CPR, which is something I've never learned before. It was pretty good training."
"I feel like with this training I would be able to react quicker to a situation," added Johnston. "I'm a lot more confident now and we were well prepared for everything we were evaluated on. The evaluation lanes were very well organized and in-depth and more realistic than I've experienced before."