HOHENFELS TRAINING AREA, Germany -- When people are ill or injured, they typically go to their local doctor for care or treatment. However, when Soldiers are ill or injured in a combat environment, they depend on the healing hands of their combat medics.
In the surrounding hills of Hohenfels Training Area during the ongoing Allied Spirit training exercise, Soldiers faced a simulated combat environment. Over 4,100 participants from 10 nations have come together to train during the exercise, which is designed to strengthen relationships among participating militaries and NATO allies while deterring Russian aggression.
Soldiers must remain vigilant in this exercise at all times as opposing forces, known in OPFOR, scattered around the area periodically attack with small arms, tracked vehicles and aerial support.
"We can't choose where the next combat zone will be, we just have to be prepared anything," said 1st Sgt. Joe Best, a combat medic with 557th Medical Company, 421st Medical Battalion, 30th Medical Brigade, Baumholder, Germany. "We had (a simulated) injured personnel brought in yesterday by aerial support and without hesitation our medics responded and successfully transferred the injured from the UH-60 black hawk to a field litter ambulance (FLA) stationed nearby."
Medics were evaluated on how effective and quickly they could receive, transport and treat injured personnel brought in by air support in a combat environment.
Though the terrain where the medical station is located is covered in deep mud, Soldiers quickly adapted to their environment and overcame the difficulties.
"The recent snow has melted and caused the location we're at to become less than ideal," said Sgt. Noah Hughes, a combat medic with 557th Medical Company. "But when lives are on the line, there is no room for excuses, we adapt and overcome. We positioned our FLA near by the UH-60 black hawk and our litter team was quick to receive the information on the patients from the flight medic and get them to the next level of care."
Soldiers who are injured in the field or in a combat environment can't depend on having a fully operational medical facility nearby. Sometimes, the closest lifesaving treatment can be found in a pop-up tent in a nearby wood line.
"It's training events like Allied Spirit that helps save lives in combat," said Hughes. "I live by the saying, 'more sweat in training, means less blood in combat,' meaning the harder we train the more effective we'll be when in combat."
For serious injuries, a field setup would not be the last stop in their line of care, but rather the halfway point.
The initial care given to an injured soldier in a combat zone is called 'first aid' that includes life saving measures to stop and control any bleeding and to make sure the injured Soldier's breathing is adequate.
Once the patient is medically evacuated to a field medical facility, a more in-depth treatment can be conducted. At this stage, further steps are taken to care for and treat any wounds the patient might have sustained.
"No matter what environment we are faced with, my medics are trained and ready," said Best. "The U.S. and its allies are an effective force, deterring aggression and sustaining the front lines of combat."