By SSG Jennifer BunnOctober 20, 2016
SLUNJ, Croatia -- When the infantry conduct their training exercises there is bound to be a few notional wounds and mass casualty evacuation scenarios to keep military medical personnel actively engaged to hone their life saving skills.
That is business as usual for the medics assigned to Iron Troop, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, U.S. Army, who are now training with 2nd Mechanized Battalion "Puma" of the Guard Armored-Mechanized Brigade, Croatian Land Forces at Military Training Area Eugen Kvaternik Oct. 10 -- 28, 2016.
But on the other side of the coin, medics also tend to real injuries and sickness that can happen at any time throughout the training event. Having a plan to treat Soldiers and get them follow-on care is essential for proper treatment.
Sgt. Sean Dowty, senior line medic for Iron Troop, was boots on ground first for his team. He set the groundwork for the multinational exercise by coordinating an information exchange and a meet and greet with Croatian military doctors and medics once the rest of his team arrived.
"It was a great opportunity to link up with Dr. Andela Duvancic and talk about the Croatian medical treatment facilities that are in the area but outside the military treatment facilities," said Dowty.
Duvancic, a doctor in the Croatian Land Forces, explained to the U.S. Soldiers that there are resources at a small clinic on post. Their capabilities include electrocardiography, a pharmacy and the ability to do minor procedures such as sutures. It was also the staging point for at least three ambulances.
Dowty also went on a route reconnaissance to the Karlovac General Hospital with Capt. Charles Blackwell, the surgeon for 3rd Squadron, and the rest of his team of combat medics. It is the nearest hospital from the training area and they needed to learn the route and know how long it would take to transport a patient in case of an emergency.
"We were able to do a time trial to see how effective that route would be for evacuating a patient from (here) to the Karlovac emergency room," Dowty said.
With construction sights on the side of the road, travel time was about an hour. In the case for emergency care, distance can be the difference between life and death.
So, next, the medical teams came together to practice evacuating a simulated casualty in a Stryker Medical Evacuation Vehicle from the point of injury at the farthest location in the training area to the ambulance exchange point.
This portion has many steps to it including lines of communication, initial assessment and treatment of patient by the combat medics, patient documentation, and off road travel.
"This is critical because as we take a patient out of the MEV, then transfer them over to the Croatian medical (vehicle). We need to work out the kinks to figure out what pieces of equipment work together and what training needs to be set up for each nations team for securing that patient," Dowty explained. "And making sure that patient hand off is done correctly with documentation and that the notification process from our side of the force goes up through the Croatian side of the force."
"To get that patient out the gate as quickly as possible is critical." Dowty added.
The travel time from the training site to ambulance took 20 minutes. Essentially an hour and twenty minutes will be needed for travel.
"That exceeds our goal, but it is quite literally our absolute best we can do for what is available right now," Dowty said.
The end state to this training was to familiarize all medical personnel, U.S. and Croatian, on a combined standard procedure on how to accurately take care of an actual injured or sick Soldier and transport them to the nearest hospital as quickly as possible. Timing is key.
2nd Cavalry Regiment Soldiers frequently train throughout Europe to participate in multinational exercise so, understanding the two-fold training for American medical personnel is paramount each time they travel to another country.
"(We need to) understand how host nation processes work, understand how U.S. systems can be integrated and work along side their systems," Dowty said. "Failure to do so is to fail your Soldiers."