FORT POLK, La. -- Nearly thirty New York Army National Guard medics assigned to Headquarters Co., 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry from New York City have two functions during a three week training exercise at Ft. Polk, Louisiana, July 9-30, 2016 -- patient care and exercising the tactical skills and field craft that brought them here.
The medics are responsible for providing patient care for up to 5,000 Soldiers from the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team training at the Army's Joint Readiness Training Center where units conduct combat training in a realistic environment that features a well-trained opposing force, civilian role-players on the battlefield, high-tech systems that monitor the action and observer-controllers to evaluate unit actions.
"Soldiers tend to push themselves beyond the limit in these training environments, especially dismounted light infantryman, it's very tough and demanding," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Lord, the unit's medical platoon sergeant.
For Lord, the past two years included focusing on training leaders on how to prevent as many illnesses and injuries as possible.
"It's a leadership function and training our leaders to identify Soldiers having problems and screening them for high risk is imperative," Lord explained.
"Making sure Soldiers are eating and hydrating properly, wearing protective gear, and giving them time to acclimate to the heat and high humidity is just as important as reinforcing proper hygiene and rest cycles," Lord added. "It's all key to keeping Soldiers safe and if they are injured or succumb to illness, it's our job to get them back in the fight."
According to Lord, the training exercise is the capstone event for his unit. After completing several battalion level training exercises over the past two years they will now will have the opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities to the 27th IBCT.
"Our medics are actively engaged in providing medical care to any Soldier within the entire area of operations being used by the 27th IBCT for this training," said Lord.
"We identified weaknesses, made improvements, have our operating procedures in place and our medics understand the requirements of supporting an exercise of this magnitude," Lord said. "We're ready, especially now since we'll have the opportunity to work with the whole brigade."
Before the unit could even move out to the primary training area they were being tested.
With only 29 medics out of 49 assigned to the unit and 25 minutes notice, the medical Soldiers successfully prepared for a mass casualty event and provided treatment and evacuation of simulated patients.
Ambulances quickly brought in the first of 13 Soldiers with simulated injuries to the battalion's aid station or triage area, most carried in by stretcher to a patch of torn up grass marked "Immediate" on a cardboard sign.
Rapidly followed by Humvees, troop transports, and more ambulances, the remaining troops were offloaded and quickly triaged and sorted by the combat medics.
Once their simulated injuries and any life threatening conditions were treated, the patients were identified for follow on care.
Whether the Soldiers' injuries and illness are pretend or real, the process is the same, Lord said.
The medics provide point of injury care to Soldiers and treat life threatening injuries and illnesses. Once they're stabilized they move them to an Aid Station for follow-on treatment. From there, Soldiers are transported to the brigade medical company where New York Army National Guard medical professionals from Co. C. 427th Brigade Support Battalion, based in Buffalo, N.Y., provide additional treatment and either return the Soldier back to duty or move them on to additional treatment at a higher level of care medical facility, Lord explained.
"What we're doing here mimics what we do when deployed," Lord emphasized.