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NEWS | June 20, 2016

365th practices combat lifesaving skills

By Sgt. Anshu Pandeya 372nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – Army Reserve Soldiers of the 365th Engineer Battalion are participating in the combat lifesaver course during training exercise Castle Installation Related Construction 2016.

Although Castle IRC is a construction exercise, Soldiers practice, refresh and learn new Soldier skills. Soldiers with combat lifesaving skills can treat and administer first aid to fallen comrades in emergency situations until a medical professional can treat them.

While the class is similar to others offered at other locations with Soldiers learning from a book and an instructor, the practical portion of the course is unique. Soldiers participate in a scenario, in which they are subjected to simulated battlefield conditions such as mannequins that spray fake blood from their wounds and mimic breathing with rising and falling chests.

The floors are covered in blood, the walls are painted to look like a battlefield with strobe lights designed to look like gunfire and explosions, and smoke fills the room from fog machines hidden with artificial rock covers. Soldiers don't only see and feel battlefield conditions but experience an audial onslaught via speakers that boom explosions, gunfire, and other sounds of war, while mannequins moan and groan in pain.

“It was kind of a shock because we didn't really know what we were getting into, and then there are seven bodies that are bleeding and breathing and have a heartbeat,” said Pfc. Nicholas Przybocki, a combat engineer in Headquarters Headquarters Company based in Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania.

“At first when I came in, I was kind of shocked because I didn't expect this at all, but as we kept doing run-through after run-through, I got more used to it and knew what to expect,” agreed Spc. Jung Ik Cho, a construction equipment repair specialist for the Reading, Pennsylvania-based 333rd Engineer Company. “I guess they try to make this as realistic as possible, which is great for us, great training,” the Bear, Delaware native added.

Spc. Brody Evan Black, a carpenter masonry specialist with the 358th Engineer Company, which is based in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, had to write a 9-Line medevac, a form used to deliver information about injured personnel and get them evacuated to safety.

“You have about ten minutes of golden space there to fill it out and get these guys on a bird and get them out of here,” explained the York, Pennsylvanian.

“That little bit of time is the difference between life and death. So you feel a little bit of pressure.”

Even with the pressure, Black endorsed the training. “This is the best way to prepare for stuff. You train like you fight. It gives you a real sense of a realistic urgency to get to a fallen Soldier, to get them help, and to get them home safe.”

Przybocki had a chance to be a squad leader, not an experience someone with his rank gets the opportunity get to try.

“Personally, I like it because as a [private first class], you're not in charge of anything, but it's also stressful because I'm the person that's supposed to to tell them what to do, and being a [private first class] and not having experience – I'm not even a year into the Army – not actually having the experience of being on a battlefield or being in the Army that long,” said the Soldier from Frederick, Maryland. “It's odd to be thrown into that situation, but I think in my position I think I've done alright.”

Black agreed, “Pfc. Przybocki did a beautiful job. He really held the fort down, laid out the ground rules, gave us a game plan as to what was going to happen when we came in here. We cleared the rooms, attended to all the casualties. It was just really good all around.”