PFULLENDORF, Germany -- During the Advanced Medical First Responder Course at the International Special Training Centre, here, students with no medical background receive condensed theoretical and practical medical cross training that enables them to initially treat and care for a patient on a battlefield.
The AMFR course is just one of several that ISTC's Medical Branch offers, including a NATO Special Operations Combat Medic pilot course that will debut in October 2016. The new 22-week course will take international special operations forces and operators with basic combat lifesaver skills and train them to be combat medics who are able to sustain casualties up to 36 hours. The course will cover 164 NATO-recognized critical tasks in trauma and non-trauma clinical medicine, injuries, illnesses and conditions.
Before students in the special operations community can attend this new course though, they have to learn special operations forces-oriented medical procedures and skills like the ones taught in AMFR.
"Students come here with absolutely no medical knowledge and can leave fully capable of saving someone's life in multiple different types of injuries," said Sgt. Joshua Nobles, a U.S. Army combat medic and ISTC medical branch instructor. "We can take someone with no medical experience from off the street and have them saving lives at an explosion, gun fight or downed aircraft."
In three weeks, multinational students learn to treat and stabilize combat trauma casualties from the scene of injury up to an hour when the patient is transported to a treatment facility. Tasks include how to triage a mass casualty incident, put in advanced or surgical airways, apply tourniquets, pack wounds, re-inflate lungs, run fluids and medicines, stop arterial bleeding, and treat head trauma, concussions and burns.
"The ultimate goal here is that everyone learns; is the student going to be able to save lives?" Nobles said.
Students learn to treat the combat injuries that could lead to death - but are preventable - including massive bleeding, airway problems, wound complications and infections.
"It is mandatory that every (special operations forces) operator be trained as an advanced medical first responder," said Italy's Lt. Col. Nicola Ramundo, the officer in charge of ISTC's medical branch. "This course is part of their initial training, and we can really save a life on the battlefield."
This isn't a just basic first-aid course. Students are taught new and emerging techniques in the medical field for tactical combat casualty care, like how to apply tourniquets to junctional bleeds in an armpit or groin, or how to run fluids and medicine through bones when a patient has extensive burns or amputees. Hands-on lessons on animal cadavers help students learn the correct pressure to stop arterial bleeding or how to inflate lungs.
Students rotate the roles they play during moulage treatment scenarios, acting as the casualty, medic, helper and security. Instructors prep the moulage wounds, medicinal vials that are filled with saline and drug labels.
"The AMFR course provides students the most current advanced medical procedures for first responders in a tactical situation," said U.S. Army's Lt. Col. Matthew Coburn, ISTC commander. "Concurrently, graduates of this course have an increased capability for operating in concert with a partner force due to the multinational nature of the training environment and are able to apply these procedures when working with any NATO nation. This type of effort is critical to sustaining and reinforcing our alliance with SOF units within NATO."