By Capt. Bradley Mattison, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division WestAugust 15, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Many Army Reserve Soldiers stationed here in a subordinate unit of Division West's 479th Field Artillery Brigade actually spend a lot of their time at Fort Hood, Texas.
They are experts in convoy live fire and mounted gunnery training, and they go to Fort Hood to train Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers for mobilizations. Because of the risks associated with live-fire training, they must be certified Combat Lifesavers.
It can be difficult to get that certification, though, so another 479th Field Artillery Brigade unit recently stepped in to make the Soldiers of the 3rd Training Support Battalion, 290th Regiment, mission-capable.
The Medical Training Task Force, based at North Fort Hood, Texas, supports the 479th Field Artillery Brigade's mission of training Army National Guard and Army Reserve units mobilizing at Fort Hood by providing expert medical training. Last month, Sgt 1st Class William Dame and Sgt 1st Class Rodarial Foster, both MTTF senior noncommissioned officers, went to Oklahoma City to teach and certify a Combat Lifesaver course to 43 Soldiers in the 3-290th.
The first day was mostly classroom instruction with ample hands-on training to keep the Soldiers engaged. Soldiers were very enthusiastic about the way the training was conducted, commenting that the instructors were very knowledgeable and kept the training simple, stopping frequently to demonstrate the proper techniques and allow the Soldiers to practice the techniques until they were confident in their abilities.
Even though the majority of the Soldiers had completed CLS training in the past, most were not prepared for the lane training that Dame and Foster had in store for them the next day.
The second day, after the Soldiers learned how to evacuate a casualty, Dame and Foster took them outside for a practical exercise. However, instead of setting up stations with standard equipment and having Soldiers simply practice loading and unloading casualties, the MTTF instructors provided a more realistic training scenario. The Soldiers broke into groups of five and the instructors set up two competition lanes, each with four stations, for them to go through.
The simulated scenario started with the Soldiers out on a patrol when suddenly they began receiving indirect fire. Then, a "casualty" was identified for each team.
At station one, with only a blanket for equipment, Soldiers had to assess and properly load the casualty, then conduct an improvised carry to station two.
At station two, the Soldiers received word that a helicopter was inbound and had to transfer the casualty to a rescue sled stretcher. As the Soldiers dragged the casualty to station three, they learned that the helicopter was at full capacity and they would need to transfer the Soldier to a litter of some sort.
At station three, the Soldiers found a collapsed litter that had to be erected before the casualty could be transferred from the rescue sled stretcher. Once the casualty had been successfully transferred, the Soldiers again started toward the helicopter landing zone.
At station four, the Soldiers had to set up the litter, find litter straps, transfer the casualty, and continue toward their final destination -- all in Oklahoma's mid-summer heat.
The CLS students wrapped up the third day of training with a written exam, which all 43 Soldiers passed.
World-class training and support of this magnitude would not be possible without the efforts of the MTTF. The Soldiers from the 3-290th can now train deploying Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers with the confidence of knowing they can handle any medical emergency they may encounter.