FORT CARSON, Colo. — Fort Carson Army medic teams arrived on a simulated battlefield scene outside the Medical Simulation Training Center (MSTC) July 15, 2022, ready to show how they could apply the lessons they learned during the previous four days.
Dressed in full battle kit, they were tasked with performing a quick injury assessment of a medical manikin. Next, they had to package and litter-carry their patient onto a waiting Stryker for transport.
Once inside the Stryker and moving toward a field hospital, the medics continued to perform patient assessments and documentation tasks.
That’s when they learned that their route toward the field hospital had been blocked, which forced them to abandon their trip to the field hospital.
As it turned out, this would be no simple handoff to long-term care professionals.
Diverted from their intended destination, teams were then tasked to create a makeshift aid station in a nearby “safehouse.”
At the safehouse, medic teams then unloaded their patients and set up their aid stations in an austere environment. Without much room to maneuver and with limited light, power and water sources, they were tasked with providing long-term care for their patients.
It was all part of a final-day exam that came at the end of a week-long training course called Delayed Evacuation Casualty Management (DECM).
“This is an advanced course for Army medics,” said Taylor Sorenson, MSTC site lead. “It’s a joint effort between the MSTC, the 4th Infantry Division surgeon general, the 10th Field Hospital and Evans Army Community Hospital (EACH). And it’s the second time we’ve offered the course in the past year.”
Medics had to qualify just to get into the course and instructors were subject matter experts provided by Fort Carson units, the 10th FH and EACH.
“This is good training for medics,” said Sgt. Vanessa Morales De La Cruz, course evaluator. “They don’t want to have to learn this stuff in a real-world scenario. This way, they can make errors now and realize what wrong looks like, which will help them be successful in the future.”
The DECM course highlights critical thinking, time management and resource management. Generally, Army medics are tasked with stabilizing patients before handing them off to field hospitals for longer-term care. This course, however, challenges them to provide that longer-term care, where they insert catheters and chest tubes, administer medications and operate a mobile blood bank.
As if handling a patient’s long-term care wasn’t enough for the medic teams July 15, course instructors also introduced a wrinkle – sick-call Soldiers also began showing up at the makeshift aid station.
“Again, this is an advanced course, so we want to introduce aspects that medics may encounter in the real world,” Morales De La Cruz said. “In this scenario we wanted to ensure the medics could handle both tasks simultaneously.”
Under the watchful eyes of evaluators and instructors, the medic teams performed to varying degrees.
The final ending scenario proved to be a grueling test for all teams involved. Sorenson said that one team performed beyond instructors’ expectations, while another will need to retake the course, based on its performance.
After successfully completing the course, medics were awarded DECM certificates and are now eligible to help teach future course iterations.
“Ultimately, this training helps with a medic’s confidence,” Morales De La Cruz said. “Repetition builds confidence, and it is important as a medic to practice as you perform. For instance, you don’t want to have to pretend you have blood. If it doesn’t look like blood, your brain is not going to capture that and apply that in memory. It’s important to practice what blood looks like and actually go through the process of waiting a certain amount of time, checking vital signs and looking for reactions. You need that confidence to make sure you’re successful in the future.”