By Tawny M. Dotson (Madigan Healthcare System)November 15, 2010
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- A mortar attack takes place and a casualty is identified. A Soldier is trying to place a tourniquet when the attack resumes and the casualty must be moved to the bunker. Once inside the darkness of the bunker, the casualty begins to have trouble breathing and the Soldier places a nasopharyngeal airway from his Improved First-Aid Kit (IFAK) to ensure the casualty can breathe.
It sounds like a situation one would find in war, and that's the intent. In reality, it's what happens with the use of the Mobile Trauma Training Platform created by Bravo Company, Troop Command, Madigan Healthcare System.
The MTTP is a trailer outfitted with a computer-controlled mannequin that speaks, breathes and bleeds like a person. The platform was created to train Soldiers how to use their IFAK . The kit is often introduced but not often put into real-life training situations. Wounds simulated include amputations, sucking chest wounds and airway compromise.
"The Soldiers we have run through the training said they gained a lot out of the knowledge we've taught them for using the IFAK," said Staff Sgt. David Barnett, noncommissioned officer in charge of Neurology. "Soldiers often have the IFAK, have inspected it on a weekly basis, but they never knew how to use some of the things in it. This gave them a chance to actually use the interventions and put them into a scenario where they would use it."
The MTTP was created for around $2,000 according to 1st Sgt. Kristopher Rick. If he were to have purchased all of the items for use, it would have cost the Army nearly $150,000. Instead, he identified resources that were no longer being used by units at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and pieced the platform together for significantly less.
Four evaluators or controllers are in place to assist units interested in training their troops with the MTTP. The Soldiers use the MTTP at the ranges at JBLM and at the Medical Simulation Training Center during weapons qualification or Army Warrior Training. The MTTP is often used to complement other training opportunities.
"We talked with the MSTC about what kind of plans they had from a mobile aspect and then developed this concept," Rick said. "What we are trying to do is make sure we don't deviate from what Big Army and the MSTC are going to do to standardize mobile trauma training so that when they create a standard, we can adjust slightly but stay on the same glide path as what they decide."
The MTTP is not reserved for just medics training. It's used for all Soldiers who need training on combat casualty care. The goal is for all Soldiers to have a chance to train in basic use of the IFAK in a simulated combat situation. In the 11 months since the MTTP was created, it has seen a great deal of use.
"We had this [MTTP] put together in about 30 days in January," Barnett said. "It's used on average once a month for a total of about 200 Soldiers so far this year."
The platform marries required training with active use of the IFAK. It goes beyond a computer-based presentation or briefing by a senior Soldier. Instead, it puts a Soldier in an active scenario where they learn to operate within a stressful environment they might see on deployment.
"I think it puts technology to use, but also it throws them to the wolves," said Barnett. "You've seen the IFAK before, but now you are going to use it."