By Spc. Keegan Costello, 27th Public Affairs Detachment JournalistJuly 20, 2017
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- The 10th Mountain Division (LI) 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 at the Medical Simulation Training Center on post. The two-week event concluded June 30.
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 medic with C Company, 10th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team. "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 (emergency medical technician) skills.
We've shown them how the Army utilizes its medical capabilities while in a combat zone."
Through torrential rain, the Navy Reservists practiced moving casualties 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," Tolentino said. "They actually pulled us in and made us feel like one big branch. It's great training; for some, it's 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. … 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," Salonia said. "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 organizations throughout the Northeast to conduct medical training.
"We are lucky enough here at the Fort Drum MSTC to have a medical school close to us, the (State University of New York Upstate Medical University) 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, noncommissioned officer in charge of the MSTC.
"Most commanders and first sergeants jump at the opportunity to do some joint training," Horner added.
Rear Admiral Louis Tripoli, deputy commander of Navy Medicine East and deputy director of the Medical Corps, and other naval leaders followed the teams as they conducted the training, taking notes and giving feedback during the after action reports.
"It was good for them to be involved in pre-hospital training," said Navy Reserve Commander John Martin, officer in charge of the Navy Reservists for Operation Commanding Force. "Following that we began doing operation field medicine. We participated in trauma lanes and evacuation drills, all of which are very new to Navy corpsmen."