One hundred and sixty-nine cadets from 6th Company of Cadet Field Training completed medical training Sunday to recertify as Combat Lifesavers. The certification process requires cadets to demonstrate that they understand how to treat a variety of common wartime injuries, such as tension pneumothorax and extreme blood loss.
For the cadets who took part in the recertification, it meant dragging partners across hundreds of meters of terrain, receiving and giving a tourniquet to squad mates, and applying a needle-chest decompression to mannequins. Cadets also had the opportunity to train up in the use of chest seals to treat sucking chest wounds.
Cadets from 6th Company spoke about how it was evident that they were getting a lot out of the training. Many of the cadets jumped at the opportunity to throw a tourniquet on a friend’s arm or leg, and all the better if they then get to drag their buddy around a range as a pretend casualty.
They also thoroughly appreciated the mentorship provided by the medics from the 10th Mountain Division.
“I think the Task Force is doing a really good job,” Class of 2024 Cadet Jack McKenna said in praising the trainers. “They have been keeping us engaged and making some of the training fun.”
Many of the medics wore deployment patches and were able to supply useful, real-life experience to the training that the cadets went through. These medics are part of 10th Mountain’s Task Force Catamount, which will support summer training at West Point through August.
One hallmark of summer training at West Point is the brutal heat that settles into the Hudson Valley every June.
The heat did not fail to arrive for this lane as the day peaked with a temperature of 90 degrees and 78% humidity.
“It’s really hot, so everyone is trying to get into the shade,” Class of 2024 Cadet Travis Norton said.
One major way that the lane medics sought to combat this heat was through the use of dunk tanks. These tanks, filled to the brim with ice and water, function as the cadets fully immerse their arms in the water. They then raise their arms above their head to allow the cold water and cooled blood to move through the rest of their body. This facilitates total body cooling and the reduction of core temperature.
The hot weather came after a period of cold, stormy days that shook the cadets in their first week of CFT training.
“When it was really rainy, everyone thought, ‘Ah, this sucks. I don’t really want to be here,’” Norton said. “Since the weather has gotten better, I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know everybody and doing some good training.”
This seems to be a general sentiment. Some of his squad mates joked around as they practiced applying tourniquets. Others chatted easily while filling their canteens and CamelBaks up at a water buffalo.
The medical training that cadets receive during Cadet Field Training builds on initial Combat Lifesaver training that new cadets receive during Cadet Basic Training.
Class of 2023 Cadet Dasher Rodgers is currently serving as a squad leader in 6th Company. Having already completed CFT, Rodgers said, “This training that we’re doing today is the most thorough medical training that I’ve seen. It’s definitely more thorough than what we did during Beast.”
The high-quality training is, in part, due to the incredible supplies that are available at the lane.
When learning to treat tension pneumothorax, cadets were taught to look for abnormal rise and fall of the chest. The mannequins out at the lane are actually able to mimic breathing; they can be set to breathe uniformly or unevenly.
Similarly, when looking for possible brain damage, cadets are taught to look for unnatural dilation of the eyes. The mannequins have variable eyes that can be setup to indicate brain damage in a testing environment.
The cadets are receiving some of the highest quality training available.
The cadets in 6th Company will move on to do artillery familiarization training as part of the Call for Fire lane.
They will have the opportunity to fire rounds from a mortar, operate as part of a Howitzer firing team, and call in an actual artillery strike on a downed tank.
The training that they received Sunday will appear again in their Field Training Exercise, a culmination of all of the training that cadets receive during the detail.