The 25th Infantry Division takes pride in being jungle experts and this is on display every few weeks as another class of students gather as graduates of the only Jungle Operations Training Course in the U.S. Army.
The Jungle Operations Training Course teaches Soldiers squad level tactics and survival skills necessary to operate in various jungle environments, which is what the Army would likely find itself fighting in if there were to be a conflict in the Pacific.
While many of the Soldiers assigned to the 325th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division have completed JOTC, the medical company recognized a training gap that they decided to fill on their own.
“The Soldiers are not taught this type of medical training at AIT or at jungle school because the focus is more on trauma and trauma management,” explained the 325th BSB Emergency Physician Capt. Kaitlin Harper. “We thought we could fill this training gap with a short week of training focused on realistic scenarios they may face throughout the jungles of the Pacific.”
While there is not a lot that can kill a human in the Hawaiian jungles, aside from falls and drowning, this is not the case in other areas of the Pacific. Outside of Hawaii, it would be commonplace for Soldiers to encounter venomous snakes, waterborne illnesses, and a wide range of insects that carry diseases.
Harper further explained, “In the 25th ID we deploy throughout the Pacific for training and if needed for future conflict. This specific type of medical training is important because the reality is that these are things we will very likely face when we do go forward even though they aren’t things we face every day here in Hawaii.”
Staff Sgt. Able Carlos, a medic and operations noncommissioned officer assigned to 325th BSB emphasized that while treating a patient is important in any situation that it is only the first part of a medic’s job.
“Transporting a patient to the next level of care is equally important as treating them and doing that in this type of terrain presents its own challenges,” he said. “Being able to safely move a patient through a dense jungle without further injuring them can be the difference between them living or dying.”
The two skills taught to the medics while at the 25th Infantry Division’s Lightning Academy were how to move patients using a one rope bridge as well as high angle extraction methods, both of which the Soldiers got to try first hand.
The importance of this training was not lost on the Soldiers who were happy to have the chance to learn new skills.
“It was definitely interesting and I really enjoyed it,” said Pfc. Coleman Obermeyer, a medic assigned to 325th BSB. “There was a lot that I didn’t know that the senior medics were able to give insight on these topics based on their previous training and experiences.”
Some of the skills taught in the course were not new to everyone but still provided further insight into some scenarios the medics may face in the future.
“Some of these topics are things I’ve studied on my own but this helped to go more in depth on things such as treating venomous snake bites,” explained Obermeyer.
Looking ahead, the medics of 325th BSB will continue to refine this training and plan to make it a regular part of their annual training plans changing their definition of jungle expert from one who can survive to one who can help others survive.