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Soldiers refresh combat lifesaving skills

| Exercise News Day | July 22, 2019

FORT McCOY, Wis. —

Every Soldier who graduates from Army basic training is trained and proficient in basic warrior tasks. However, without practice these skills become perishable. In the case of combat lifesaving, it could mean life or death on the battlefield. 

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 13th Psychological Operations (PSYOP) Battalion and the 319th PSYOP Company refreshed basic warrior skills during a combat lifesaver course (CLS) at a Medical Simulation Training Center (MSTC) at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 18, 2019.

John Flood, the training site lead for the course said the three-to-four day certification, or annual re-certification, consists of classroom and practical exercise training.

The instructors evaluated Soldiers on their ability to assess casualties on simulated high-stress training lanes. The first portion of the training lane included a care under fire situation with low visibility from thick simulated smoke. Next, the Soldiers dragged casualty mannequins to a covered location to perform tactical field care while instructors stood nearby evaluating Soldiers’ assessment skills and occasionally shouting reminders.

“While we’re evaluating … we allow our students to flail, but we don’t let them fail,” said Flood, who is also a U.S. Army Reserve Soldier in the 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion from Green Bay, Wisconsin. 

After the first training lane of the morning, Staff Sgt. Trevor Corbin, a student in the class from the 13th PSYOP Bn. in Arden Hills, Minnesota, described how he felt during the exercise despite previously taking the course before deployment in 2013.

“A lot of stuff was coming back to me in the [classroom] course, but then … out there, I was kind of out of breath, and just like, ‘Woah!’” said Corbin who assessed mannequins with mechanical limbs, open wounds and gushing fake blood, that simulated real battlefield injuries during the exercise. 

“For these guys, the majority of them haven’t seen a CLS class or done anything CLS related within a couple years,” said Flood who spoke loudly over the pounding sound of gunfire and simulated screaming. 

Sgt. Cody Thorburn, a participant in the class from the 13th PSYOP Bn., said he last completed CLS certification in basic training over six years ago. 

“It got a little stressful. I was just trying to stay calm. I was a team leader so I was trying to keep everyone else calm and just breathe, slow it down. Because you’ll do better if you just slow it down and take it easy (rather) than getting frantic,” said Thorburn. 

Thorburn said team leader tasks included checking in with Soldiers to ensure proper assessment and calling a 9-line medical evacuation request.

Thurburn described the CLS class as being “a tremendous enhancement … to skills that we should all be familiar with and work on building.”

The CLS class was just one of the warrior tasks completed during annual training for the U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers who also participated in weapons qualification. The training allows Soldiers to remain capable, lethal and combat ready.