By Spc Keegan CostelloJuly 17, 2017
The 10th Mountain Division hosted its fourth annual Operation Commanding Force, a joint-service training event between the Portsmouth Naval Reserves and Active Army medical personnel at Fort Drum and its own Medical Simulation Training Center. The two-week event began June 19 and ended June 30th.
Naval reservists from all aspects of the medical field came under the command of the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, when they signed on to participate in two weeks of extensive hands-on medical training, which would allow them to earn certifications in Tactical Casualty Combat Care(TCCC) and Hospital Corpsman Skills Basic(HMSB).
"Today we are doing a field litter obstacle course with the Navy," said Staff Sgt. George P. Tolentino, a combat media (68W) with the Charlie Company, 10th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry). "Every year Naval Reservists do a refresher here at the MSTC on Fort Drum. We go through the same things the Army goes through, TCCC and basic EMT skills. We've shown them how the Army utilizes its medical capabilities while in a combat zone."
Through rain and torrential Fort Drum weather the Navy Reservists practiced moving causalities and performing care under fire. The obstacle course involved a team of litter bearers with attached security. The teams demonstrated the proper way to move a casualty through a tunnel, over a wall obstacle and under barbed wire, all while maintaining security and reacting to indirect fire.
"They are pretty motivated, very well knit," said Tolentino. "They actually pulled us in and made us feel like one big branch. Its great training, for some its great refresher training. It is a great opportunity to show them what we do."
The Navy Reservists ran drill after drill, and competed against the Army medics to see who made the best time. For them it was a culmination of the skills they had been taught for two weeks.
"We actually came in with the fastest time," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Tyler J. Salonia. "The reason we came here was for a joint-training exercise with the Army, specifically the 68 Whiskies. They showed us some great stuff that we never really thought of. I wish the training was longer and had more people involved."
"Six individuals were hand selected for excelling throughout the whole course and they were taught how to become instructors," said Salonia. "Those individuals are going to go back to their units and train others on how to become life savers, specifically combat life savers."
The training allows the Reservists a chance to acquire useful and career progressing skills they couldn't normally receive, like tactical field and combat care.
"This is one of the few places I know I can get my TCCC and my HMSB," said Seaman Clark Fisher, a hospital corpsman. "I'm definitely going to tell everyone how good it was, even the classroom stuff. Hopefully they make it longer. It's great to be joint with the Army because we don't get to see everyone else that often. If I hadn't signed up for this I would have been doing it in a hospital with simulations, not out in the field doing all this fun stuff."
The MSTC facility on Fort Drum is one of several across the country, but this one is used by the whole Northeast region to conduct medical training.
"We are lucky enough here at the Fort Drum MSTC to have a medical school close to us, the upstate medical school out of Syracuse, we have a working relationship with them and that allows us to offer advanced medical training and advanced classes," said Sgt. 1st Class Rodney P. Horner, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the MSTC. "Most commanders and 1st sergeants jump at the opportunity to do some joint training. This year we had Navy Admiral Tripoli here, and we were lucky enough to have the Fort Drum Commanding General Piatt as well."
Rear Admiral Tripoli, deputy commander of Navy Medicine East and deputy director of the Medical Corps and other naval leadership followed the teams as they conducted the training, taking notes and giving feedback during the after actions reports.
"It was good for them to be involved in pre-hospital training," said Navy Reserve Commander John Martin, the officer in charge of the Naval reservists for Operation Commanding Force. "Following that we began doing operation field medicine. We participated in trauma lanes, evacuation drills, all of which are very new to Navy corpsman."