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NEWS | July 25, 2019

Combat lifesaver course brings new challenges for Soldiers

By Staff Sgt. Nicholas J. De La Pena Exercise News Day

With uniforms stripped of name tapes, rank, and unit patches, U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 13th Psychological Operations Battalion based out of Arden Hills, Minnesota, tested their combat medical skills in a culminating training lane under simulated combat conditions at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 18, 2019. 

U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Sean Flanagan, 319th Psychological Operations Company, 13th PSYOP Bn., said, “when saving lives, rank isn’t important.”

“In a situation like that, if you’re combat lifesaver qualified, regardless of your rank … you're going to have to do some dirty work. Get your hands dirty. Apply tourniquets.” 

A group of 13th PSYOP Bn. Soldiers gathered at the Fort McCoy Medical Simulation Training Center for three days to conduct classroom instruction followed by a simulated training lane. At the center of one team, 1st Lt. Zachary Huberty, 13th PSYOP Bn., laid on the floor posing as a casualty, while the team rehearsed how to treat him. 

“I think … the training will help us in an emergency situation so that we don’t freak out, we don’t lock up and we can calmly go through our steps to save a life,” Huberty said.

Outside, where the training lanes rotated in groups, Flanagan, in a team with four other enlisted Soldiers, trained on advanced mannequins which oozed simulated bodily fluids until the Soldiers provided necessary care. 
“The (mannequin) was extremely sensitive and very lifelike, including the simulated breathing; vastly improving the training,” Flanagan stated.

Flanagan said training without looking at results doesn’t help Soldiers learn. “Here, you do something wrong, you get to see the result and then you have to … fix it,” she said. 

Smoke paired with simulated explosives raged on while teams assessed the wounded and applied proper aid. 

“I was applying bandages, and then I was filling up the tactical combat casualty care card, which … explains who the patient is, what kind of injuries, their baseline vitals, and then just what kind of aid we administer to them,” Flanagan said. “So once we do pass (the patient) on … to the medical evacuation, they have all that information available.”

Simulated training events like the CLS training lane provide Soldiers with a skill set aimed to save lives while in austere environments. 

“One big takeaway from it is just focus on the patient. Try not to let all the noises and the screaming people around you kind of distract you … just focus and not let yourself get flustered,” Flanagan added.

Once the nine-line medical evacuation call was made, the team loaded the wounded on to litters to be evacuated.

“I think it's vitally important. It doesn’t matter what your (Military Occupational Specialty) is,” Flanagan said. “You never know when the situation will arise or where you're going to have to use this kind of skill.”