CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait (July 9, 2008) --
The sounds of gunfire and explosions rang out while Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, treated several bloodied and wounded victims for various combat trauma injuries ranging from gunshot wounds to severed limbs.
Thankfully enough the explosions and gunfire were recorded and the blood fake. The victims themselves were just a realistic simulation of a human body. This is all in an effort to train Marines to be effective combat lifesavers.
The class, held at the Medical Simulation Training Center (MSTC) here is given as a means to build upon previously learned skills.
According to Hospitalman 1st Class Felix C. Sabillo III, the leading petty officer in the Health Services Division of CLB-15, the Marines and Sailors attending the class attended a previous Combat Lifesavers course where they were certified to treat many types of injuries a Marine might encounter during a combat situation.
“Basically all of these Marines are combat lifesaver certified, and the class that we’re doing right is the practical application for all of the things they learned,” said Sabillo, an 18 year member of the US Navy.
At the MSTC, the Marines were given the opportunity to put those skills to use by performing vital life saving techniques on realistic mannequins, Sabillo explained. These mannequins provided a realistic training partner for the Marines to practice on.
These training aids breathe, have a pulse and bleed fake blood so the Marines can get a feel for what it is like with a real patient, Sabillo explained.
Making this training a bit more relevant is the fact that upwards around 70 percent of all combat fatalities are due to massive hemorrhaging, Sabillo said. With a “live” patient the Marines get a feel for and a sense of urgency for the situation, he related.
“That’s why the training is so relevant—that we need to practice the right placement of a tourniquet, how much time do we have to stop the bleeding and to prevent that Marine or Soldier out there from dying from a massive hemorrhage—that’s the most important thing,” said Sabillo.
Sabillo explained that it is important for these Marines to receive this training since CLB-15 only has a relatively small number of Navy Corpsmen to handle trauma and first aid. Since these Corpsmen have to support the entire 15th MEU, it is important for all Marines to have a basic knowledge of lifesaving, he said.
“If in the event we have mass casualties, the Corpsmen would be dispersed somewhere else—maybe treating other Marines. We try to get this class to other Marines so Marines themselves can do the primary care the wounded Marine would need to live,” said Sabillo.
Providing the training for the Marines and Soldiers onboard Camp Buehring is Gerald Smith, a civilian contractor with Computer Science Corporation. It is a company that provides medical training to all branches of the US military.
Smith explained that at a minimum, the Marines attending the class should know how to apply a pressure dressing, the proper placement of tourniquet among other emergency lifesaving techniques.
“What I do is give them updated information and then actually let them apply it through our scenarios,” said Smith.
Smith explained that many of the Marines are not expecting to see such a life-like portrayal by a “dummy”. The initial reactions are usually a “wow” effect though some are a bit more reluctant to deal with them because of the authenticity.
However, once they get over their feelings toward the situation, the Marine is able to reach back into their training and begin the necessary life-saving steps.
“At first [the lifesavers] are amazed that there is a mannequin that can do everything that they can do. So once they get beyond that, they really treat it like a true patient because it prompts them to treat it like a real patient,” said Smith.
For Cpl. Thomas Wylie, a landing support specialist with CLB-15, the training was a realistic way to apply the necessary skills needed to save lives.
Wylie explained the class builds confidence and gives the individual Marine attending the class gets a better of how to apply the techniques.
As a result of attending the class Wylie is confident in his skills with treating combat trauma. With mostly classroom time someone could never judge their skills based solely on what they learned out of a book, he said.
“I think when Marines come in here and work with these mannequins and they do the actual hands-on—stopping the bleeding—their confidence just goes through the roof. Myself—I’m very confident. I feel like if I ever had to treat a patient in combat, I could do it,” said Wylie, a 21 year-old native of Waterford, Mich.
The Camp Pendleton, Calif., based 15th MEU is comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and Sailors and is a forward deployed force in readiness capable. The 15th MEU is currently conducting sustainment training exercises in Kuwait.