By Sgt. Quentin W Johnson (1st CAV)December 11, 2012
FORT HOOD, Texas--The Army Combat Lifesaver is a bridge between the first aid given to all Soldiers during basic training and the medical training given to combat medics, according to the Medical Simulation Training Center, Fort Carson, Colo.
Ensuring cavalry scouts with the 4th "Dark Horse" Squadron, 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are prepared to aid medics during combat trauma situations, approximately 50 Dark Horse Soldiers completed a combat lifesaver course here, Dec. 4 to 7.
The first of the year squadron-wide CLS class included lectures, slides, hands-on, practical exercises, lane training and a written test, Sgt. 1st Class Celester Harris said.
Soldiers learned advanced first aid procedures in controlling bleeding, pressure dressings, tourniquet applications, airway management, and tactical care operations such as care under fire and assessing wounded on the battlefield, Harris, a Dark Horse medical platoon sergeant, explained.
Combat lifesavers are vital during deployment in the fight against a battlefield threat Harris calls "blood loss."
One of the most important things taught in class is control the bleeding while not trying to cause further harm to the wounded, Pvt. Tyler Debozy, a Dark Horse cavalry scout, said.
"Statistically, 60% of all preventable deaths in combat are due to blood loss," Harris, from Coney Island, N.Y., added. "A CLS can bring these numbers down while allowing medics to work on the severe trauma cases."
Helping medics during combat is a Dark Horse priority as its goal is 90% of all Soldiers in the squadron CLS certified," he added.
"With medics spread throughout the squadron's troops, CLS trained Soldiers are needed to support them during deployments as 'force multipliers."
As force multipliers, a CLS must be confident and proficient in the training, not forgetting they are assisting medics in saving lives.
"The CLS class is not a 'check the list' class, it's important and makes a difference in combat especially when medics are busy with the severely wounded," Spc. Cesar Rodriguez, a Dark Horse medic with Troop B, said.
Debozy agreed saying anything can happen in a deployment including the loss of a medic at which point a CLS would be the next step in treating the wounded, and the more CLS certified the greater chance for success.
"A friend of mine deployed last year to Iraq. He conveyed to me wounded were treated faster because of the efforts from medics and combat lifesavers working together," Debozy who hails from Detroit, said.
Helping the wounded in combat is part of lessons learned during the class as part of the tactical combat casualty care, Harris said.
"CLS training is not just advanced first aid. It incorporates casualty care under fire, assessing patients and prepping them for transport," he explained. "This is knowledge required to successfully pass the class and be certified."
In addition to Soldier's certification, the class afforded the medics an opportunity to build on their skills, confidence in instructing and inspire confidence in Soldiers.
"The class is very significant to medics as it provides a train the trainer concept. My senior medics lead the class and are assisted by two qualified junior medics," Harris explained.
To become a CLS instructor, medics must successfully pass a combat lifesaver instructor course at Fort Hood's Medical Simulation Training Center, he added. As instructors medics also keep refreshed and effective on their skills.
"Instructing keeps (medics) refreshed on our medical training as we get to incorporate real life scenarios into training and ensure our equipment works properly," Rodriguez said. "We need that hands-on training ourselves and face to face experience with Soldiers we work around."
As instructors, medics transfer some of their knowledge onto the Soldiers allowing them an active role in the life of a medic and building their confidence as lifesavers, Rodriguez, from Klamath Falls, Ore., stated.
"I become more confident as the Soldiers do … when you evaluate others you start to evaluate yourself, looking for small mistakes," Rodriguez said.
Self-evaluation paid off as the morale was high and Soldiers continued to excel during the class.
"(The class) was taught really well. The instructors were competent and knowledgeable," Debozy said. "I retained more in this class than in any other class I have been in during my career. I am confident because of the teaching and confident I will do well treating wounded under the stress of combat."
Another squadron-wide CLS class is scheduled for February.