By Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp, MND-B PAOApril 6, 2009
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq - In times of war, no one ever wants to face a major attack where a large number of people are wounded, but Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers are taking steps to make sure they're ready in the event the unthinkable should occur.
To minimize the potentially deadly effects of a possible attack on Camp Liberty, MND-B Soldiers from the Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division honed their medical skills and training during a mass casualty exercise April 3 here. DSTB physician assistants, medics, combat life-saver personnel, liter-bearers and other Soldiers took part in the exercise.
"We're doing this to help monitor the reaction time of DSTB medical personnel in emergency situations," said Sgt. 1st Class Greg Wilson, medical platoon sergeant, DSTB, from Philadelphia. "It also helps us to validate our special operating procedures in preparation for the possibility of any mass casualty attacks. They're learning a mixture of different things, from reaction time and adequate treatment to the proper procedures for triage."
"It helps us facilitate medics to be first responders," explained Killeen, Texas native, Capt. Kimberly Latham, a division physician's assistant for DSTB. "We also know how to disperse the work load which gives them the opportunity to learn to employ buddy aid."
Along with that, the training was also designed to brush up combat life-saver skills along with refreshing many of the skills that Soldiers learn in basic first aid.
As the exercise began, Soldiers bearing fake wounds in the form of rubber prosthetics and fake blood laid on the ground acting as simulated casualties while other DSTB Soldiers acting as emergency first responders evaluated, categorized, treated and then evacuated the injured troops according to the severity of their wounds.
In a combat situation, Soldiers are usually given medical care with whatever first aid means are available at the site and are sometimes sent to higher echelons of care for further treatment, depending upon their injuries.
"There are a pretty good variety of injuries," said Fletcher, Okla. native Spc. Charles O'Malley, a medic attached to DSTB from Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment as he looked around the exercise site. "Although [Advanced Individual Training] gears us up for trauma, this really helps us to practice what we've learned."
For Carrizo Springs, Texas native, Spc. Hector Mendoza, a mechanic, and Pfc. Maria Orellana, a food service specialist from San Antonio, both with Headquarters Service Company, DSTB, the exercise offered them the opportunity to brush up on and build confidence in their first aid skills.
Orellena had the opportunity to treat a casualty with a neck injury who was a little confused but had not yet gone into shock.
"He was responsive and talking and his vitals were good. We did everything we could and made sure he was treated in the event he went into shock."
Mendoza aided in taking care of a Soldier who had a chest wound and head trauma.
"We helped him and once we got him on the liter, we made sure his weapon his was secure," said Mendoza. "We then took him to the casualty collection point, but of course we couldn't really do much to him, because we wanted to make sure that we were being extremely careful with his head."
The two Soldiers said the training was worthwhile.
"We definitely had much better props, which helped us to visualize the injuries, than we had during my last tours to Iraq," said Mendoza, who is serving his third tour to the combat zone. "We've gone a long way from using little pieces of paper to simulate wounds and during the mass casualty everyone did a good job and tried to do their part."
"This was really good training which gave us a little more understanding about how things are if a [mass casualty] actually happens," said Orellana. "I know that if something like this really happened, I'll be able to help out a lot more."