By Sgt. Austan R. OwenNovember 8, 2011
FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- Sniper fire rained down from a rocky hilltop next to the police station outside the small village of Tiefort, triggering numerous improvised explosive device blasts on the American convoy. For the Soldiers on the receiving end, it's another day of training for the "Lancer" brigade at the National Training Center.
Soldiers from 2nd and 3rd Platoons, 978 Military Police Company, entered the village of Tiefort to meet with the local police chief in an effort to build better relations with the key leaders. The unit's secondary mission was to evaluate a site in the town for a new medical facility during a situational training exercise on Nov. 7. After a brief meeting with the police chief, a firefight erupted. Opposition forces, representing a local terror cell, attacked the unit with small-arms fire and detonated multiple IEDs. During the firefight that lasted about 25 minutes, the unit sustained significant mock casualties.
Immediately, the medics of the unit sprang into action to treat the wounded. The injured were moved to the safety of vehicles while being protected by the unit's gunners. The medics and qualified combat lifesaver Soldiers provided treatment as more wounded were brought to the immediate casualty collection point. The exercise quickly became a mass casualty training exercise.
"I would say that the medics' actions today were nothing less than heroic," said Staff Sgt. Robert Karr, platoon Sgt. for 3rd Platoon, 978 MP Co. out of Fort Bliss, Texas, 2nd Brigade Support Battalion.
"I think that the medics were outstanding; they performed above and beyond," said Karr, "We had a lot of wounded Soldiers. We had medics, of junior rank, that took over their portion of the mission."
The unit collected their casualties and egressed from the city to a more defendable location where they regrouped, took accountability and began to organize the situation.
"Once we arrived at the designated, secure casualty collection point I took charge," said Pfc. Camren Bento, medic for 3rd Plt., 978th MP Co., "I separated the wounded from the KIA [killed in action], told the CLS guys where to go and began to triage the injured while Staff Sgt. Karr called in a medical evacuation helicopter."
In the chaos of the situation at the CCP, all the medics worked together to ensure the best treatment possible for the 12 mock wounded during the exercise.
"This was a major mass casualty situation," said Pfc. Jason E. Anderson, medic for 2nd Plt., 978th MP Co., originally from Austin Town, Ohio, "This training was supposed to get me ready to be able to think about how do I slow down, digest the situation and render the best care possible."
"The training today brought a lot of realism to these guys like Pfc. Bento," said Karr, "This is what happens; this is what could happen; this is what they need to be prepared for."
"Until they are actually boots on the ground in a situation like this, they don't get the full idea of what it's like or what it could be like," said Karr.
The Soldiers of the unit take pride in their medics and what they do for them, knowing the training that they received may one day benefit the unit in combat.
"When I joined the Army, I figured the most rewarding job I could do was to be a medic," said Bento, originally from Oakcreek Wis., "Not only am I out on the front line fighting with my guys and fighting for what our country stands for, [but] at the same time I'm helping save lives. Knowing that your best friend or your good friend gets to see their family again because they could possibly die if you didn't have these skills."
"Pfc. Bento amazed me; he is my platoon's medic and he is going to be with us throughout the duration," said Karr, "I couldn't ask for a better guy and if they try to take him, I'm going to fight to keep him."
The training the unit received during the exercise helped strengthen the skills of the medics and bolster the Soldiers faith in the care they will receive in the event they are wounded on the battlefield.