June 20, 2008

Preparing to save lives in battle

By Spc. Andrew H. Owen
29th Infantry Division Public Affairs

Soldiers prepare to lift a casualty on to a litter so that she can be evacuated to safety during Combat Life Saver training at Fort A.P. Hill June 16. (Photo by Spc. Andrew H. Owen)

FORT A.P. HILL, Va. — Severed limbs, long since forgotten by their previous bodies lie strewn across the tables of the classroom of the Emergency Operations Center. Not to worry though, they are training aides used to teach Soldiers Combat Life Saver skills.

Soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division Headquarters, Headquarters Company and Special Troops Battalion are attending the CLS course during their Annual Training at Fort A.P. Hill.

Throughout the three-day course Soldiers learn to effectively evaluate and treat casualties on the battlefield. The combat life saver is a bridge between the self aid/buddy-aid training given to all Soldiers during Basic Training and the medical training given to the combat medics, said Capt. Kathleen Burke, a 29th ID STB physician’s assistant.

An instructor for the Combat Life saver course at Fort A.P. Hill demonstrates how to properly open and manage a casualty’s airway. (Photo by Spc. Andrew H. Owen)

“The major advantages of the combat life saver is that he or she will be nearby if a member of his or her squad is injured,” she said. “It may take several minutes for a combat medic to reach the casualty. Employing these skills saves precious time on the battlefield, which may save the casualty’s life.”

The Soldiers learn skills needed to keep the casualty alive long enough to be treated by doctors off the battlefield. After completion of the course the graduates can perform the necessary life saving skills. They learn evaluating a casualty, opening and managing a casualty’s airway, treating penetrating chest trauma and decompressing a tension “sucking chest” wound, controlling bleeding, initiating a saline lock and intravenous fusion, and requesting a medical evacuation.

The training is being taught by Spc. Fulks, Spc. Harrop, Pfc. Haskins and Spc. Brown from HHC and STB. The course consists of two days of lecture and hands-on training. On the third day, the Soldiers take a final written test. Soldiers must score a minimum of 70 percent on the written examination in order to successfully complete the training.

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