U.S. Army Reserve safer after recent batch of CLS graduates

By 1st Lt. Marcus Matthews-Marion | 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) | Aug. 27, 2018

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — Thanks to 19 individuals and four certified trainers, a resident Dallas-Fort Worth military unit will be more equipped to save the lives of fellow uniformed members and civilians than ever.

The almost two dozen Soldiers completed Combat Lifesaver Course (CLS), which is nearly a calendar week of grueling instruction and written and physical examinations administered by a certified 68W Combat Medial Specialist. The course is the bridge between the basic lifesaving skills that Soldiers receive during basic training and the more intensive training taught to combat medics.

It is a staple of the U.S. military training diet because with it, Soldiers can treat casualties prior to the medic's arrival.

“If they pass the physical assessment tomorrow, they will be CLS qualified,” said Spc. Jonathan Saffle, a brigade medical specialist, Tuesday afternoon. 

He paused mid-sentence, wiped sweat away from his brow, and issued commands to a group diagnosing their patients under a searing hot Texas sun.

Some were applying tourniquets. Others were applying pressure dressings to wounds according to practice test guidelines.

He allowed a slight smirk to cross his features and explained why CLS is important regardless of what Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) a Soldier has.

“It’s important because medics can’t always save Soldiers’ lives because of battlefield needs. These Soldiers need to be able to administer basic triage and life-saving techniques to sustain life until we can get the injured to a medical center.”

The five-day course consists of 40 hours of blended classroom and hands-on training given by certified combat medics. On the final day, students take a written exam. After the exam, they are taken outside to perform mock scenarios as a culminating experience. 

Upon successful completion of the course, the Soldier is certified for one year and an annual recertification is required. 

The value of a CLS extends beyond their role while in combat. As the Army changes, updates and improvements are made to the Combat Lifesaver Course. 

“When it comes to the survivability of battlefield injuries, CLS trained Soldiers have exponentially increased the probability of keeping Soldiers alive to reach higher levels of care,” said 1st Lt. Erik Wilson, the brigade’s medical operations officer. “Historically, Soldiers that survived the original wound had an 80 percent chance of survival. That chance is in the high 90s now and the CLS program has a lot to do with that.”

It was so important to how units can function in combat that the Army made a palpable change to how Soldiers' are trained. Per a Jun. 25 report from Military.com, the branch of service refined the infantry's 14-week infantry one station unit training (OSUT) so young "grunts" arrive at their first unit more combat-ready than ever before.

Trainers at Fort Benning, Georgia, were scheduled to pilot a tester program this summer that will extend infantry OSUT from 14 weeks to 22 weeks. It will give those Soldiers more time to practice key infantry skills such as land navigation, marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat, fire and maneuver and first aid training.

The 300th Sustainment Brigade is a part of the 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). The command is made up of Soldiers, civilians and their families in units headquartered throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. As part of America’s Army Reserve, these units are trained, combat-ready and equipped to provide military and logistical support in any corner of the globe.

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