PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 7, 2020) --
A fleet Marine force hospital corpsman’s mission is to identify medical conditions from combat wounds or injuries, provide treatment for specific medical conditions, and triage casualties for treatment or evacuation.
PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 7, 2020) ‒ A fleet Marine force hospital corpsman’s mission is to identify medical conditions from combat wounds or injuries, provide treatment for specific medical conditions, and triage casualties for treatment or evacuation.
There are approximately 100 corpsmen throughout the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, providing medical attention to nearly 3,000 Marines and Sailors, but there is only one who fulfills two roles while flying in a UH-1Y Venom, a multi-role utility helicopter equipped with a wide range of weapons and mission support configurations.
U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Addison Avell, an en-route care corpsman, serves a secondary billet as a UH-1Y Venom aerial observer with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164 (Reinforced), 15th MEU. U.S. Marine aerial observers help pilots with their all-around situational awareness.
“Being an (en-route) corpsman is a critical stage of care, and it is your job to make sure they get to the next stage of care, that is a huge responsibility to be a part of,” said Avell. “Being an aerial observer, most corpsman never get the opportunity to be one and it is a great experience to integrate with Marines and gives me a better idea of what they do.”
Prior to joining VMM-164 (Rein.), Avell said she was the only corpsman at the health clinic to certify as an aerial observer during her time with Marine Aircraft Group 39.
“I heard from the flight surgeon that I used to work for, that he was going through the aerial observer syllabus, and I asked him what it was about,” said Avell. “It sounded like a super cool opportunity, something that I wouldn’t get to do anywhere else.”
In order to certify as an aerial observer, both Marines and Sailors must complete the aerial observer syllabus and earn the qualification. Avell said the syllabus consisted of an additional swim qualification, learning the mechanics of the aircraft, a course on using night vision devices more effectively and a medical seminar highlighting the effects of aviation on the human body. Avell also gained proficiency in employing the Gun Aircraft Unit-21 .50-caliber machine gun, which fires over 950 rounds a minute, from the door of the helicopter during offensive and defensive operations.
“When I started working with (Avell), she was only two or three flights into her aerial observer syllabus, and from the start, her level of expertise in the (aircraft) was above what I expected,” said Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Lawrence, a UH-1Y Venom crew chief with VMM-164 (Rein.). “She was hungry for knowledge and everything I taught her, she picked up on quickly.”
Lawrence described Avell’s capabilities as being extremely important, as she is one person doing the job of two. With the qualification as an aerial observer, Avell is able to fill the role of a second crew member and fulfill her duties as an en-route corpsman, reducing the crew from three to two. This makes a significant difference in an aircraft that typically carries only five to six passengers, not including aircrew.
“Because I’m able to fill the role of a crew member, it frees up other crew members to manage other (helicopters) and execute the tactical mission while we are still able to accomplish our casualty evacuation mission,” Avell said.