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NEWS | Aug. 9, 2018

Army Reserve medics train with realism

By Staff Sgt. Christopher Sofia 78th Training Division

Clouds of fog fill the air in dimly lit rooms as red and green strobe lights flash above. Over the speakers, sounds of gunfire and explosions ring out. Bloodied mannequins lay on the floor awaiting rescue. The scene is ready, but this is no Hollywood movie set. 

This is the final test for U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers completing Combat Lifesaver Course in a Medical Simulation Training Center (MSTC) at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. The MSTC is a high-tech facility where Soldiers are better equipped by using efficient medical training with a standardized training platform for both the classroom and simulated battlefield conditions. 

U.S. Army Reserve medics with Task Force Ultimate, Operation Cold Steel II, provided valuable readiness preparation to 32 Soldiers including Task Force Ultimate cadre and Soldiers completing their annual training while attached to Task Force Ultimate. 

“This training is very important if you’re ever in a combat zone; its life or death,” said Spc. George Jones, 1002nd Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Training Company, based at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. “I’m much more confident now that I’ve gone through the training. I actually know what to do now when it comes to evaluating a casualty and using the tools provided. I learned a lot. I think it’s worth it.” 

Soldiers go through instruction at the MSTC, beginning with classroom time before moving on to more hands-on training. 

Students receive instruction on basic emergency care in a classroom. Following classroom instruction, they begin hands-on training using medical life-saving tools such as tourniquets, bandages and litters. After the Soldiers complete the hands-on portion, they begin going through the validation lanes as practice for their final test. Finally, Soldiers go through validation lanes and testing. 

The culmination of training is tested in a Validation Lab (V-Lab), a simulated battlefield featuring up to five life-like mannequins which simulate life signs and symptoms as well as combat related injuries. 

“When they first come in, there’s a sound system hooked up where we can play gun fire and whatnot, lower the lights to put Soldiers off their balance,” said Sgt. Herbert “Liam” Edwards, 7202nd Medical Support Unit, based in Shoreham, New York. “When they come upon the casualties, Soldiers will see amputations, see breathing, eyes moving, blinking. We can even make the mannequins cough, moan and scream, simulate all sorts of verbal communications using the tablets.” 

The control room has five tablets corresponding to five mannequins inside the V-Lab. These tablets run a program allowing the manipulation of vital signs including pulse rate, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation. Every change on the tablets has a distinctive effect on the mannequins. With a few taps on the screen, the mannequins can breathe faster or slower, have their heart race and even experience a blood pressure drop, forcing the Soldier to find a pulse in alternate locations. 

“We can collapse lungs and make pupils dilate and contract as well as open and close the eyes on the mannequins. They also make noise using different sound files,” noted Edwards. 

Collapsed lungs are not the only injury the mannequins can simulate. To make the training challenging and realistic to what Soldiers might encounter, the wounds can actually simulate arterial bleeding. 

“When Soldiers train on those ‘bleeding’ mannequins, they don’t come out of the room not covered in it. Their uniforms are usually soaking with the simulated blood,” said Edwards. 

Once they enter the V-Lab, Soldiers have ten minutes to hit all the key points of training to become validated. 

Being validated through the training taught at the MSTC is paramount in achieving readiness. 

The Task Force Ultimate chaplain, Chaplain (Capt.) Tzvi Teitelbaum, 404th Civil Affairs Detachment (Airborne), also based at JB-MDL, New Jersey, took the opportunity to become certified and spoke highly about his experience. 

“The skills and the knowledge are something I believe everyone should have because it’s vital whether you’re in combat, training in the field or anything,” said Teitelbaum. 

Teitelbaum recalled an incident he witnessed where he might have applied the skills he learned. 

“I once responded when a Humvee carrying four Soldiers rolled over on the New Jersey turnpike. The Soldiers were seriously injured and one of them lost her foot at the scene,” he said. “I was on my way home from work when I saw the accident. Fortunately, there were emergency responders on the scene. So, I went to the hospital and stayed with the Soldiers because they were convoying and didn’t have anyone from the unit or their families at the hospital yet. I sat and talked to them for about five hours. I prayed with the Soldier before she went into surgery.” 

“As a member of a team I think everybody should have that training,” he added. “You’re responsible for each other, especially because this training is useful outside of the Army. The skills, training, info is very useful to everybody regardless of your job.”

Given the amount of focus and guidance from the medics in the classes, Soldiers completing the instruction successfully will be able to carry on the skills they’ve gained to take back to their home units to continue to ensure readiness. 

“You’re now an asset with the confidence to potentially save a life no matter your job or position,” said Teitelbaum.