15th MEU News

Combat Aidsmen Course aids 15th MEU in combat first aid

3 Mar 2006 | Staff Sgt. Tracie G. Kessler

“Stop the bleeding, start the breathing, cover the wound, treat for shock,” is something that many Marines remember learning in recruit training.

To further expand on their training, Marines of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit completed a Marine Corps Combat Aidsmen class here March 3.

According to Petty Officer 3rd Class (FMF) Justin Mendenhall, corpsman, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, the course is offered to give the everyday Marine a basic perception of trauma management.

“We wanted to introduce [the Marines] to medicine so they’re not freaked when actually happens,” said Mendenhall, a Gillette Wyo., native. “We want Marines to be more comfortable and have more confidence in a combat environment so they can take action on a patient.”

The Marines were trained in five days how to splint broken legs, apply pressure dressings and administer intravenous (IV) needles, among other skills. Mendenhall further explained he wants to see Marines be able to handle bleeding and airway management, treat immediate life threatening injuries and stabilize injuries in an effort to increase the chances of an injured serviceman’s survival.

The combat aid class is sort of a crash course in what a corpsman does, he said.
What this means for the Marines who took the course is that when a Marine goes down due to some type of injury, the combat aid student will be able to administer first aid until a corpsman can take over and continue providing aid.

Mendenhall explained the combat aid course does not train a Marine to replace Navy Corpsmen but a combat aid trained Marine can be expected to carry on the duties of a corpsman in the event the platoon corpsman is unexpectedly wounded or killed.

Mendenhall said that he knows this course works. He explained that while on a patrol in Iraq, he was tending to a wounded Marine’s abdomen injury while a combat aidsman tended to other less life-threatening wounds.

Lance Cpl. Eric Wright, a member of Weapons Co., Battalion Landing Team 2/4 and a student in the course, explained that it has prepared him for whatever might come his way, whether it is assisting the platoon corpsman, performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation or administering IVs.

Wright explained that he was looking forward to this course because he was told it was supposed to be a good course and prepares Marines for the handling of combat injuries. The class did not disappoint him as he explained that it was some of the best training he has ever received.

“I feel 100 percent confident in anything that might be required of me,” Wright said. “I’ve been taught better [this week] than any other training that I’ve had before. It was more in-depth than any other training than I’ve had.”

Another Marine who attended the CPR section of the course, Lance Cpl. Christopher Jennings, Data Section, 15th MEU, explained that after having attended the course he feels confident that he can perform CPR under any circumstances.

Jennings explained due to the detailed nature of the course and the constant repetition during the class, every lesson was reinforced.

“I feel pretty confident [about the class]. They definitely drilled us with every scenario,” said Jennings, a native of Lynchburg, Va.

Jennings said what he liked most about the course was the way the course was taught. The class did not move forward until each Marine knew what he was doing, he explained, and was more in-depth and detail driven.

“They really worked with each Marine. [The instructors] made sure the Marines knew what was being taught instead of just moving on. I would recommend [this class] to other Marines,” said Jennings.

In the four and half years that he has been in the Navy, Mendenhall explained that he has taught this course fairly regularly. The training is continuous, he explained, and he is always going over injuries.

If Marines do not learn anything else from his classes, he hopes they learn what he considers the most important subject.

“Stop the bleeding. That’s the number one thing in combat,” said Mendenhall.

15th Marine Expeditionary Unit