FORT BENNING, Ga. - Eight Soldiers were recertified as combat lifesavers Wednesday after successfully completing a three-day course taught by the 690th Medical Company (Ground Ambulance).
While the Combat Lifesaver Course is offered periodically postwide, sometimes a unit can't make one of the scheduled classes, so the 690th provides the needed instructors and curriculum, said Sgt. Tamara Bracey, treatment NCO, who helped teach the course last week to 789th Explosive Ordnance Detachment Soldiers.
"Every company has to have a certain number of combat lifesavers," Bracey said. "Everybody who is certified as a combat lifesaver must get their certification updated annually."
That's not only to refresh their skills, she said, but also to learn about the latest changes in combat medical care.
Five medics led the most recent course, which included nine lessons culminating in a field test and written exam. The field portion was scenario-based to simulate a deployment environment.
"You don't want somebody who's supposed to be a combat lifesaver ... to get on the battlefield and freeze, so you train them how you want them to fight, then they know how to react," Bracey said. "You don't even have to think about it -- 'I have to put on the tourniquet. I have to pull this person out of the hot zone. I have to get all my information, so I can call the nine-line medevac.' You don't want them to ever be like, 'What do I do next?'"
To make the test more realistic, Soldiers worked in the wood line, wore their gear, responded to enemy fire and provided medical assistance for Soldiers with simulated wounds.
"It is muscle memory," Bracey said. "If you just do it in a classroom environment, where they don't have on their gear or anything like that, they don't take it as seriously, but if you try to make the training as realistic as being out there on the battlefield, one, they remember it better and two, it's like, 'Wow, this is not a game, this is not a joke.'"
"It was a good class," said Pfc. Sam Hall, who first took the course more than a year ago in basic training.
"It's good skills to refresh," he said. "I have a better sense of confidence about it since I actually put it into practice instead of just reading about it. It's good to know we were trained by people with experience. They're in-depth with their teaching. They'd show us, then we'd take a break and ... practice it while still in the classroom. Then when we came out here, we got to put it all together. That's the best way to learn."
Hall's first job was to carry the litter to the site.
"But once we all got down there, we all did all the roles," he said. "We all covered for each other at one point. We all helped with the medical procedures at one point."
The private applied a bandage to a chest wound as cadre reminded the Soldiers to continue speaking to the casualties as they aided them.
"Once you actually get in a stressful situation, it's the little things you tend to forget," said Hall, stationed with the 789th EOD since April. "It's good to just try and keep your head clear and just remember everything you were taught."
While executing each procedure correctly is important, combat lifesavers have succeeded if they cause no further injury to the wounded and get them evacuated in a timely manner, Bracey said.
"The basic lifesaving measures make a world of difference," she said. "If you can just stop the bleeding, if you can maintain an airway, when I come on the scene it makes my job so much easier. So I really appreciate them. I appreciate that they understood what they learned and they acted it out here. That just gives me more confidence when they go out on the battlefield."