By Spc. Brea DuBose, 75th Field Artillery Brigade Public AffairsMarch 1, 2018
FORT SILL, Okla. (March 1, 2018) -- You stand at the doorway as you wait for the signal. From where you stand on the staircase, you grip your M4 between both hands as you peer into the dark hallway.
An explosion sounds from a distance and your time starts. Dressed in full combat gear, you and a teammate rush into the long hallway and run toward a room with flickering lights. As you approach the room, the sounds of explosions, gun shots, and cries of terror grow louder.
"I was nervous," said Spc. Cendy Muro from 15th Transportation Company, 100th Brigade Support Battalion (BSB). "I didn't know what to expect."
The visual and audio effects were part of the intent behind the 75th Field Artillery Brigade's (FAB) Tactical Combat Casualty Care-All Combatants Course (TCCC), as well as to arm Soldiers with the requisite training to quickly and definitively assess casualties' wounds to save lives. Soldiers from the 100th BSB and the 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery tested individually on their life-sustaining skills, Feb. 8, to obtain their certification through the TCCC course.
The course began Feb. 5, and for four days Soldiers learned how to first, provide life-sustaining aid to casualties, and ultimately, perform such measures under simulated combat conditions. What makes this training different than other brigade combat lifesaver courses, was that this course was more hands-on than previous iterations.
The implementation of a hands-on trauma lab into the course was new for the Soldiers and for the brigade's medical team. Currently no Medical Simulation Training Center (MSTC) exists on post. In the interim, this more in-depth training gap is filled by sending select individuals to the Master Medic Course at Fort Hood, Texas. Medical leaders took it upon themselves to create a more realistic environment for simulated real-world casualty care training.
"Normal CLS (Combat Lifesaver) training is usually given in the form of death by PowerPoint; and it doesn't give the Soldiers time to actually comprehend what they need to do," said Sgt. 1st Class Frank Citizen, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 75th FAB medical noncommissioned officer in charge and the primary instructor of the course.
Previous CLS courses relied heavily on slide presentations, and the only physical aspect of the course was of Soldiers practicing learned skills on a training aid. The course this week focused more around the tactical side and medicine, said Citizen, who attended the Master Medic Course in December at Fort Hood to build his skills as a medical professional and bring that expertise back to the unit.
"We're forcing their minds to actually implement basic battle drills into their assessments," Citizen said.
According to Muro, even though the TCCC course, often referred to as "T Triple C," began the first day in a classroom with a written test; by the second day students were getting hands-on experience and applying the things they learned. The course was taught by Citizen and medics under him.
On the final day, Soldiers applied what they learned in a test of their ability to aid a casualty under a stress-induced simulation. They found themselves having to stay calm enough to remember the course's lessons once they stepped into a dimly lit room with loud sounds of combat reverberating off the walls.
"I was expecting to see a normal room," Muro said, "So, at first I was internally panicking."
Muro said she took the course because she wanted to have more knowledge on how to deal with a real-world casualty.
"The hardest part is imagining someone being injured, and being called to act on it, and remember the littlest details."
Muro hopes to take the skills she learned, such as acronyms that help her remember the steps of providing casualty care and simple knowledge of what is inside a standard Individual first aid kit, back to her unit to teach her fellow Soldiers.
"Before this course, I didn't know you could only use a tourniquet once," Muro said. "I learned about things I can do to help rather than just standing by and waiting for a medic or a helicopter to arrive."
Citizen said is precisely the reason nonmedical professional personnel need to take this training.
"A medic can't get to every single person right away," he said. "The first person to get to a casualty is usually their battle buddy, so teaching Soldiers T Triple C is more likely to save a life because they can stabilize the casualty and get them to a medic."
Muro recommended career Soldiers to increase their understanding of how to provide immediate tactical care.
"Without this knowledge you're just going to freeze up, and you won't know what to do," said Muro. "Even the smallest things I've retained from this class like applying pressure to a wound can save someone's life."