Early this year, the U.S. Army initiated a Combat Lifesavers Certification course, a requirement for all recruits entering basic combat. Ë™As we find ourselves in the current fight, we always said that every soldier is a lifesaver,à“ says Lt. Col. Steven Scioneaux. Ë™The sooner someone can provide aid to a wounded soldier, it_s increased that soldier_s likelihood of surviving.à“
A new soldier is certified in combat lifesaver skills in four days and 40 hours, more than double the previous two-day first aid training. Scioneaux says all drill sergeants at Fort Sill in Lawton, Okla., were previously required to have this advanced training, so they_re able to assist the medics with teaching new recruits. Ë™Now we_re just doing this on a much larger scale,à“ he adds.
Fort Sill is one of five basic combat training grounds in the country. Its pilot class of 182 students was held in April; in May, the certification process was in full swing. New recruits have received more than 4,000 combat lifesaver certifications, which must be refreshed every year to keep the certification and its perishable skills active.
Dehydration and heat exhaustion are currently of significant concern, says Scioneaux. Recruits completing the lifesaver certification will be able to establish a saline lock and start IVs, a great advantage for a soldier in need of fluid stabilization. Ë™That is very important in the medical field,à“ says Sgt. First Class Tracy Kitchens, a Fort Sill medic.”ž”ž He adds that soldiers are learning to do needle decompression, inflate the lungs and place a nasal airway. According to www.armytimes.com, soldiers will also be certified to evaluate a casualty, manage an airway, control bleeding, treat burns, perform CPR, administer a nerve agent antidote, splint a fracture, and perform field sanitation and preventative medicine.
Soldiers will be provided with an I-Pak, an extensive individual first aid kit. Each motorized patrol will also have a V-Pak, a first aid kit for inside the vehicle. Finally, each unit has a combat lifesaver bag in addition to bags carried by every Army medic.Ë™Initially, we thought there would be some apprehension to it,à“ says Scioneaux. Ë™Really, the soldiers are very excited.à“ He says those in basic training appreciate the reality of the situation and are more comfortable knowing the skills that could help them in a time of need. Ë™They may have the ability to save a buddy_s life, and their buddy has the ability to save theirs.à“