Fort McCoy, Wis. –
Medical Soldiers from various units came together to tackle the litter obstacle course on Sept. 16, 2022, during annual training here.
The Soldiers were divided into four-person teams, then received a safety briefing from 2nd Lt. Caleb Hart. He demonstrated how to set up the litter, strap in the patient-mannequin and give commands, such as “prepare to lift, lift. Prepare to move, move.” The scenario was to carry a mannequin strapped to a litter “The goal is not to drop the litter and the mannequin,” Hart said.
Although the teams had no set time limit to meet, unit leadership challenged them to compete against each other while safely completing the course. Each of the teams completed the six-obstacle course in around 20 minutes, which meant they jogged between tasks set up in the Fort McCoy woods.
Obstacles included a crawling through a long drainage tunnel which tested the taller Soldiers, low crawling under wire, stepping over wire which called for greater team coordination, scaling a high wall, and climbing up and down tower ladders. The Soldiers also had to carry the patient up a steep bank which required them to put the patient’s head to the front before moving up the incline. Once at the top of the hill, the team had to turn around again so the patient moved feet first. That way, if the patient were to fall off the litter, he or she would land feet not head first.
One of the team members was Spc. Theophius Wiefueh with the 452nd Combat Support Hospital, Milwaukee. He described the task as fun but also hard. “I had a great team, which made it better,” Wiefueh said. He found climbing the tower to be the most challenging obstacle.
2nd Lt. Sancho Luiz Lopez with the 444th Medical Detachment from Fort Snelling, Minn., served as the officer in charge of the event. He explained that “the objective of the training is to give non-medical personnel and 68W medics familiarization and hands on experience learning to work with one another as a team.
“This is important because the Soldiers are from other units. This teaches them the importance of working with different units, getting out of their comfort zone and tackling real-life obstacles they might encounter in a field environment or deployment. It’s molding the Soldier to be as adaptive and flexible as possible,” Lopez said.
The mannequin used during the training weighed about 60 pounds. Despite that, Spc. Martha Guzman with the 452nd CSH said the training was “a lot harder” than she expected. She said working with a heavier mannequin the weight of an adult male would require “us to communicate more, and we’d get more tired.”