TRIPLER ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Hawaii - The Department of Health Education and Training, here, completed another iteration of their 68W Sustainment Program, Feb. 28.

Army posts and military medical treatment facilities all structure training for health care specialists, or 68W combat medics, differently. A combat medic provides emergency medical treatment, limited primary-care and health protection, and evacuation from a point of injury or illness.

Instead of breaking up the training, TAMC's program focuses on a M.E.D.I.C. course, or Medical Education and Demonstration of Individual Competence course, and ropes training over the period of a week, which puts their students through numerous exercises, lectures and simulations.

"During the training period, the medics attend a six-day course, which combines a classroom setting with hands-on exercises as they practice techniques, which culminates in a final practical exercise," said Master Sgt. Isaac Day, noncommissioned officer-in-charge, DOHET. "Students practiced starting intravenous lines, treating fractured limbs, controlling bleeding, establishing and maintaining a patient's airway and breathing, and treatment of other injuries common to today's battlefields to include ropes rescue techniques in difficult and high altitude terrain."

"At completion of the course, each student should feel confident that they possess the skills to treat major and minor injuries, and importantly to save lives," added Sgt. 1st Class Zella Gilkey, nursing education and operations NCOIC, DOHET. "The fully trained 68W completes the same testing and certification or recertification requirements as civilian (Emergency Medical Technicians or) EMTs."

The program is not limited to only Army combat medics. Day said other branches of service and even other Soldiers with a variety of medical occupational specialties have taken the course.

"It has helped Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors and civilians sustain perishable and critical battlefield skills that are paramount to saving lives on and off the battlefield," Day said.

Hawaii Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Albert Zeller, aerospace medical technician, has served in the military for nine years and took the course to recertify his EMT credentials.

"I have taken a course similar to this, but this course was well-taught and student-driven," Zeller explained. "This course allowed others to share their experiences and educate members, like myself, to look at things in different ways. I hope all medics get a chance to take a course like this one."

Sgt. Hans Tan, combat medic and licensed practical nurse, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, TAMC, agreed with Zeller and said the instructors made the course more dynamic because they brought all of their experience to the course.

"(TAMC's course) has diverse instructors with different backgrounds and experiences," Tan explained. "They focused on lessons learned from their time in theater of operations as opposed to (Army Medicine) doctrine, which isn't always very realistic."

For more information on the 68W Sustainment Program, call 808-433-5204.