By Mr. Gino G Mattorano (Regional Health Command Europe)April 17, 2018
Regional Health Command Europe hosted the Combat Medical Ministry and Emergency Medical Ministry Courses March 12-21 for 30 U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force chaplains and religious affairs specialists from England, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Turkey.
The CMM and EMM courses help prepare chaplain teams to deal with the impact of combat on Soldiers. The EMM course also helps prepare religious affairs specialists and NCOs to assist and protect chaplains in ministering and delivering religious support.
During the nine-day courses, students received training at the 7th Army Training Command Medical Simulation Training Center in Vilseck, the Bundeswehr Hospital in Koblenz, Ramstein Air Base, and at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
During the training at Vilseck, chaplain and religious support specialist teams participated in a simulation exercise where they encountered simulated mass-casualty scenarios that tested their ability to provide pastoral care in a combat environment, according to SGT Tricia Piper, a religious affairs specialist with LRMC.
In a situation like that, Piper says that chaplains would focus on providing pastoral care, like giving last rites, providing hope to someone who was badly injured, etc. The chaplain assistant's role in that scenario is to help medics provide first aid and to provide security for the chaplain and the patient.
"You never know when you might be involved in a mass casualty event, so it's important to know what our role is in that type of situation," Piper said. "It was a very hands-on exercise, so walking through the scenario, versus just talking about how we would react was very beneficial."
The students also had the chance to visit the German Bundeswehr hospital in Koblenz, where they received a tour of the hospital and participated in an exercise scenario involving a traumatic event. Students also had the opportunity to see the Bundeswehr hospital provide treatment to a real-world trauma patient.
This is the first time the courses have been offered in Europe, according to Chap. (Maj.) Daniel Wilson, a LRMC chaplain.
"Being exposed to real-world trauma, helps prepare our chaplain teams to deal with crisis situations in the combat environment," Wilson said. "The opportunity to interact with our host-nation partners prepares our chaplain teams in the event of a real-world situation here in the European theater."
The next phase of the training took place at Ramstein Air Base, where chaplain teams received training on how to conduct dignified transfer ceremonies, which involve the transportation of the remains of fallen heroes. The 86th Airlift Wing's Chaplain hosted the training, which used Ramstein C-130s to simulate the dignified transfer of remains from the operational environment to a mortuary affairs facility at Ramstein or in the United States.
The final phase of the training took place at LRMC, where students received the majority of their classroom training, received additional mortuary affairs training and even had the opportunity to observe a surgical procedure in a LRMC operating room.
Chap. (Col.) Karen Meeker, Chief of RHCE Clinical Pastoral Division, says that the courses help the Chaplain Corps meet the CSA's number one priority of readiness.
"These courses are specifically designed to prepare Chaplains and Religious Affairs Specialists to provide religious support in combat," Meeker said. "Our branch rarely gets this type of high quality training. Thanks to RHCE who funded the training and made this opportunity a reality for our Chaplains in Europe. If a crisis should happen, I am confident these graduates will bring divine comfort and calm in the chaos."