'Ode to Joy'

'Ode to Joy'

March 31, 2011

Tactical Combat Casualty Care: Marines learn battlefield first aid

CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa, Japan-Sgt. Jason Lichtefeld, left, with Military Police Support Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, the main caregiver, places a nasopharyngeal airway into the nose of a simulated casualty during a Tactical Combat Casual Care course on Camp Schwab March 17. An NPA goes into the nostril of an unconscious victim and secures the airway by preventing the tongue from blocking air passages. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Anthony Ward Jr.)

The Tactical Combat Casualty Care course held on Camp Schwab March 14-18 taught Marines the battlefield first aid needed to tend to the wounds fellow Marines might receive during combat.

The first three days were classroom instruction with some practical applications, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Eddie Rodriguez, a special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd MarDiv. During the last two days of class, Marines use their new skills in realistic training scenarios.

All Marines receive some sort of first aid care while in boot camp, but the training taught during TCCC goes more in depth, Rodriguez said.

“All Marines know how to use an occlusive dressing on a gunshot wound or splint a broken bone,” Rodriguez said.

An occlusive dressing is an air- and water-tight trauma dressing used in first aid.

Providing care on the battlefield however involves understanding human physiology, the aftermath of a wound and being able to care for the victim for a few hours or even days, said Rodriguez.

In one field environment training scenario, two students, a caregiver and an assistant, administered care to a simulated casualty. The team assessed the casualty before providing battlefield first aid, he added.

“It was as real as we could get it,” said Cpl. Daniel Malmberg, the simulated victim for the exercise and one of the students in the course.

As part of the “real” training the caregiver and assistant inserted a tube into Malmberg’s nostril. The procedure,  referred to as a nasopharyngeal, is used to open the airway of an unconscious victim, preventing the tongue from blocking air passages.

The course taught the guidelines of battlefield care but also provided Marines with the necessary skills to think independently when dealing with a downed casualty, said Malmberg after completing the course.
“I’d be able to assess any casualty, diagnose and fix them,” he added.

The Marines learned to improvise and use what was available to treat casualties, Rodriguez added.
“Field medicine is kind of improvised,” said Rodriguez. “You might use a stick to make a splint. Today we had the Marines use duct tape as an occlusive dressing.”

TCCC instructors try to teach Marines to think outside the box for solutions to provide medical aid, Rodriguez said.

The knowledge corpsmen teach Marines at TCCC might someday save lives, he said.

CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa, Japan  — Combat is an inherently dangerous environment in which casualties can occur at any time.

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