FORT HOOD, Texas--Army training doctrine dictates that to achieve maximum readiness, units should “Train as You Fight” using tough, realistic, standards-based and performance-oriented training to maintain and exceed proficiency in critical skills.
For Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center medical professionals, that means taking a brief respite from their normal clinic and desk duties to complete specialized training focusing on the critical lifesaving skills that they need to have to care for wounded service members while deployed overseas.
MEDCOM has identified more than 100 skills and tasks necessary to support combat casualty care. They have recently developed Individual Critical Task List training specifically designed to promote and measure individual competencies for all officer and enlisted medical personnel to determine their readiness to deploy.
“The challenge for us is that the skills healthcare providers practice day-to-day to care for Soldiers and their families at home station are not the same ones they need to provide high-quality, combat casualty care on the battlefield. Providers in garrison just don’t see the type of wounds and trauma that they would see when treating warfighters on the battlefield,” said Lt. Col. Randolph "Scott" Harrison, commander of CRDAMC’s Troop Battalion.
Harrison said CRDAMC’s medical readiness training program starts with monthly ICTL training using the on-site simulation lab. Participants rotate through stations performing various tasks under the supervision of staff who are skilled in the specific task. This month’s ICTL session August 21 focused on tasks such as Place a Chest Tube, Perform Needle Decompression, Intubate a Patient, Perform Cricothyroidotomy (emergency airway puncture) Insert a Large Bore IV Catheter and Perform eFAST Ultrasound Examination.
The next phase of the training requires medical personnel attend the quarterly III Corps Medical Skills Readiness course at the Medical Simulation Training Center. Harrison said this training increases the level of realism for participants as they perform the critical tasks using high-fidelity mannequins and cadavers.
“Finally, we have an annual, culminating Joint Emergency Medicine Exercise which simulates tactical combat casualty care in a real-world deployment. It further improves our medical personnel’s combat readiness by giving them practical application and hands-on training which focuses on procedures to save the warfighter from point of injury until we can provide medical evacuation,” Harrison said. “Not only do they get more practice on performing the critical life-saving tasks, they also get the opportunity to perform them in a simulated combat environment which is very challenging in itself.”
The realistic environment is vital so that those who have not deployed can see how the entire operation works and what they will need to know and do to make it a success, Harrison said. Whether they are family medicine doctors, allergy immunologists or surgeons, when they go downrange, they can’t stay focused on just their role. In a field setting, they need to know what everyone does so they will be able to step in if needed, regardless of their specialty.
"We really have made medical readiness training a priority for CRDAMC. The whole idea behind ‘Train as You Fight’ is to arm our medical personnel with the skills and knowledge they need so if they have to go to war tomorrow, they are prepared to take care of the most critically ill warfighter and save lives,” Harrison said.