PFULLENDORF, Germany (Oct. 5, 2016) -- A NATO Special Operations Combat Medic (NSOCM) pilot course debuted at the International Special Training Centre (ISTC), here, Oct. 3, 2016.

The newly developed 22-week course will take international special operations forces (SOF) 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 NSOCM pilot course will cover 174 NATO-recognized critical tasks in trauma and non-trauma clinical medicine, injuries, illnesses and conditions; and it comes after ISTC's Advanced Medical First Responder Course that teaches initial treatment and care for a patient on a battlefield.

This multinational NSOCM course will teach theoretical and tactical medicine to 24 students annually, during nine modules taught by international guests, special topic experts and ISTC instructors. The pilot course began with students from Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, and the United States.

The NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) in Belgium will evaluate the course to ensure ISTC is fulfilling the training required for the course to be designated an NSOCM.

The first phase of SOCM training is trauma-related skills.

German Army Maj. Juliane Puhan, the office in charge of developing ISTC's NSOCM course, explained that today's medics are facing longer evacuation times and limited resources during deployments, so medics will learn how to care for a casualty after the first "golden" hour and up to 36 hours.

"Filling a time gap between the first hour and 'hour x,' which can be, in the worst-case scenario, more than 24 hours," she said. "If you're not trained like that as a medic, it overwhelms you and the patient will not survive that."

Even for minor injuries, medics must consider and juggle numerous tasks when caring for a patient for an extended period of time, including pain management, adequate supplies of medication, correct dosage, round-the-clock nursing, patient stability, food, nutrition and hydration.

The second phase of the SOCM course, which will begin in January 2017, is clinical medicine for non-traumatic medicine like injuries, illnesses and conditions.

"From head to toe, we will go through all the clinical topics like: eye conditions, cardiological conditions, abdominal conditions," Puhan said.

ISTC began planning for this new course in February 2015. It is based on a training curriculum created by a panel of doctors and lessons learned from the battlefield, including tropical medicine, diseases and prevention, and snake bites.

"It's about deployment medicine more than normal hospital medicine," Puhan said. "For Soldiers, this plays an extremely important role. We are mostly not going to countries where we have the same living conditions. You don't learn that in paramedic school."

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Matthew Coburn, commander of ISTC, stated that the NSOCM pilot course is the culmination of a multinational effort, fusing the support of various Special Operations commands and schools such as the NSHQ, the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School's Special Operations Medical Training Center, Special Operations Command Europe and the Nordic Initiative's Nordic NSOCM, which is run by Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

"The ISTC's NSOCM course provides a multinational solution to a NATO SOF training requirement identified continuously over the past decade of combat operations in Afghanistan," Coburn said. "This course will save lives and allow NATO SOF to protect the force with a greatly increased capacity."