By Patricia Deal, CRDAMC Public Affairs
FORT HOOD, Texas—Army Medical Command’s mantra “sustain a medically ready force while maintain a ready medical force” may seem like a clever play on words, but Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center combat medics’ recent readiness training attests to the fact that it’s not just a statement; it is their mission.
More than 40 CRDAMC medics, job classification 68Ws, recently trained on emergency medical evacuation procedures at the hospital’s helipad here as part of the combat medic’s individual critical task list (ICTL) training. MEDCOM has identified more than 100 skills and tasks that a combat medic needs to become efficient in to provide high quality combat casualty care.
Army medics are typically assigned to work full time in various clinics or departments in medical treatment facilities, providing a different level of care at the garrison level than they would perform when they’re in a combat environment.
Some of their training tasks can be accomplished in the hospital setting, but most of the training tasks have to be conducted as separate events held off-site.
In an effort to give the medics more realistic training for the ICTLs, the senior training leaders at CRDAMC have developed different types of combat simulated exercises throughout the year.
This recent nine-line and MEDEVAC training exercise was the first for the medics at CRDAMC.
“It is important that the training be as realistic as possible. It’s always best to have an actual running helicopter, with a live flight crew to interact with as that’s how it’s going to be done in real life,” said Sgt. 1st Class Johnathan Oakley, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Department of Anesthesia and Operative Services who helped run the training. “There is no substitution for being pushed around by the rotor wash of helicopter or for being able to accurately communicate over the deafening roar of the rotor.”
Oakley said they coordinated with a combat aviation unit for the cold and hot training portions of the exercise. They met at the hangar for a walk through of the training steps before conducting the live portion of the training which required the medics to call in a nine-line evacuation order, load and unload a casualty from the helicopter and perform immediate triage. The crew simulated real-world practices by communicating with the medics then lifting off and flying a short loop before landing and taking on another patient.
Training events like this are designed to get the medics’ mind to think along a different course, about a whole different skill set, according to Master Sgt. Joe Best, NCOIC for the Deputy Commander for Surgical Services, who planned the training.
“When we can combine the experiences we get in the hospital with this type of training exercises, our readiness surely goes up,” said Best. “What we’re doing here will pay dividends in the long run, not only for the medics, but for the Soldiers they serve. On the battlefield, we have only one chance to do it right.”
Best said he was pleased with the first iteration of the training as it can be difficult for medics to transition from the hospital clinic type of care mindset to one of a combat care environment. Some of the medics going through the training haven’t had any experience downrange and many of them need that exposure to the drills.
Staff Sgt. Kisha Lloyd-Perry, NCOIC of the Women’s Health Center, said she enjoyed the training because it was a refresher for her as she’s been in garrison for a few years since her earlier deployments to Iraq.
“In that environment, it was risk of life on a daily basis from snipers to mortar attacks multiple times a day. As medics, we worked as first and second contacts to patients, so it was very educational and inspirational for me, to have so many Soldiers who depended on us for their lives,” Lloyd-Perry said. “That’s why this type of training is especially important for medics who have been assigned here as their first duty station. They need that exposure to providing care in a combat environment. I think it is vital that we (as medics) be familiar, competent, and efficient with our critical care skills and roles, especially since MEDCOM’s direction is that medics will be assigned to line units.”