By Cpl. Janessa Pon, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, PacificMay 31, 2016
FIVE HILLS TRAINING AREA, Mongolia -- A team of U.S. Soldiers with the Alaska National Guard Medical Detachment are supporting the multinational peacekeeping exercise Khaan Quest 2016 by training both U.S. and international partners in combat medical care.
The medical training station is one of several stations, also known as lanes, in which multinational platoons are enhancing their skills in a variety of training events focused on preparing them for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations.
The course topics are summarized with the acronym MHARCH, which stands for 'Major Hemorrhage, Airway Respiration, Circulation and Hypothermia', and covers a wide range of immediate care techniques service members could encounter while supporting peacekeeping missions around the world.
The U.S. instructors started with an introductory class explaining the hierarchy of care and the appropriate techniques to be administered to different injuries.
Sitting in folding chairs in large, green multipurpose military tents, students with 297th Military Police Company Alaska National Guard listened intently and posed questions to the instructors in an attempt to increase their knowledge in a topic that may save theirs or a fellow service member's life someday.
After the classes, instructors demonstrated how to administer casualty care using students as dummies to perform the techniques on. U.S. Soldiers encircled the instructors outside the training tent to observe demonstrations of bandaging, tourniquet application and techniques for carrying wounded patients.
"We are teaching MHARCH management, which begins at the highest priority casualties and goes down the list of the main battlefield complications," said Staff Sgt. Heather Percy, a combat medic with the Alaska National Guard Medical Detachment. "This is training that anyone can utilize in the field and it is vital for missions in unstable locations."
Since the exercise started the medical lane has imparted this knowledge to the international community, with platoons from countries like Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, and the host nation of Mongolia rotating through.
"We have been teaching members of many different countries, and each has brought a new dynamic to the training," said Army Capt. Francis Marley, who is assigned to the Alaska National Guard Medical Detachment. "Different countries have different approaches and, medical care capabilities, from the most rudimentary to the more advanced. These differences allow us to learn from each other and improve based on the additional perspectives."
For the U.S. Soldiers of the Alaska National Guard participating in the lane training, the practical application and the foreign environment were positive aspects of the medical lane.
"The training today is a lot like our regular combat lifesaving classes, except we are now in a field environment so it is easier for us to see the real-world application of our classroom training," said Spc. Justin Martin, who is assigned to the Alaska National Guard Medical Detachment. "It's good to have this training in a different environment away from home so we know what it's like to work around unknown factors, such as weather and terrain, so we can be ready at all times."
The training culminated with a practical application event that consisted of a tactical movement replicating how Soldiers would maneuver under fire to perform immediate, lifesaving care to a simulated casualty.
"The various scenarios are the pinnacle of the training," said Marley, an Anchorage, Alaska, native. "The students are very motivated and have been in harsh conditions here in Mongolia, but have pushed through because training and readiness are continuous concepts that are the same in every environment around the world. Even with limited resources, our soldiers have been creative and innovative and have worked out ways to train best."
After the practical application, students and instructors gathered to reflect on the training and provide after-course critiques.
"This is my first year participating in Khaan Quest and it is my hope that (the instructors) will become better at working with other nations in challenging conditions," said Marley. "Khaan Quest has provided them with the opportunity to interact with different cultures and gain new experiences. I am looking forward to participating in the future and bringing what I've learned back to further improve training."