FORT HOOD, Texas (November 21, 2016) -- Since World War I, fatality rates among wounded Soldiers have steadily decreased, thanks to advancing combat care and medical technologies. For Soldiers with the 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, training with Army combat medics and medevac crews brought much-needed realism and expertise to a critical Warrior Task.

The Soldiers with the "Longhorn" battalion conducted Tactical Combat Casualty Care training, or TC3, with combat medics from the Fort Hood-based 1st Medical Brigade and 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, Nov. 16-17, at West Fort Hood. Soldiers were divided into teams to conduct a simulated combat patrol before receiving enemy fire, where they then treated and evacuated a casualty to a waiting medical helicopter.

The combat training was especially relevant for the event's Officer-in-Charge, 1st Lt. Spence Morton, a counterintelligence platoon leader with A Company, 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, who said Military Intelligence Soldiers are often embedded with combats arms units "outside the wire."

"This training is important, particularly for MI Soldiers, although they may not realize it or think about it at the time, but you do end up going outside the wire quite a bit," Morton said. "I deployed as a company (executive officer), and I ended up doing a little over 100 patrols. You never know where your collection emphasis is going to be, where that might take you."

Morton added that Soldiers can also be injured on their Forward Operating Bases or Combat Outposts, and that enemy "(indirect fire) doesn't discriminate, and anybody can get hit."

For Spc. Oscar Ochoa, a Human Intelligence Collector with 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, the realism of the training -- receiving fire, treating a casualty and evacuating to a real medevac helicopter -- solidified many key concepts.

"You can only do so much in the classroom, and here we're actually dragging that heavy mannequin around and applying tourniquets on at full strength," Ochoa said. "Getting that practice in will make it second nature just in case something actually happens."

Each team practiced individual movement techniques and fire team formations before the medical trainer/evaluator paired with each team simulated incoming enemy fire. The Soldiers immediately dropped to the ground and provided security while two Soldiers treated a simulated casualty, complete with bleeding wounds and dismembered limbs. Each "casualty" was a 175-pound mannequin dressed in the Army Combat Uniform and a helmet.

1st Medical Brigade provided senior Noncommissioned Officers, each of whom were 68Ws -- combat medics - as the trainer/evaluators. Once the Soldiers had checked the casualty's airway, applied a tourniquet to stop bleeding, examined for additional wounds and loaded the patient onto a litter, the fire team evacuated the casualty to a UH-60 Blackhawk medevac helicopter, flown by flight crews from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade.

Another positive aspect of the combined TC3 training for the 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion came through experiencing all three phases of Tactical Combat Casualty Care.

"The Soldiers were given a real quick introduction to TC3, which incorporates care under fire, tactical field care and then casualty evacuation care, which is something they've gotten to do today, through each of those phases of care," said Sgt. 1st Class James Buchanan, a combat medic with the 1st Medical Brigade, and one of the event's trainer/evaluators.

For Buchanan, a veteran of three combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, the training is invaluable to Military Intelligence Soldiers, who often do not have organic medical assets assigned to their teams.

"I think it's a pretty realistic scenario, especially for an MI Battalion that doesn't have any organic medical assets," Buchanan said. "They're the ones going to be doing all the treatment, they're the ones going to be calling the 9-Line (medevac request), and they're the ones loading the (helicopter)."

He added that in his experience, "I've seen plenty of Soldiers that weren't medics utilize the skills that we do teach them in Combat Lifesaver and TC3 training."

Two UH-60 Blackhawks and their medevac crews were on site to add a true-to-life representation of combat casualty care. Flight medics helped the 303rd Soldiers evaluate and load the casualty onto a litter for transport in the helicopter. Several times the helicopters lifted off and flew orbits around the training site to simulate a "wheels-up" scenario for the on-ground fire teams.

Spc. Ochoa said the training reinforced key components of Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, including reporting in unexploded ordnance and calling in a 9-Line Medevac Request. Plus, "getting the training with the helicopter teams and having the coordination that happened, it's awesome to have that cohesion," he said.