March 11, 2009

Guard Soldiers learn from medical professionals during training in Charlottesville

By Sgt. Jesse L. Houk
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia National Guard Soldiers from C Company, 429th Brigade Support Battalion participated in unique training March 7 which allowed them to integrate their skills and knowledge with that of civilian medical professionals in the greater Charlottesville area.

C Co., 429th BSB Soldiers

Pvt. 2 Hyun D. Chung (center), Spc. William F. Hall and Spc. Eli R. Lovell, combat medics in the Virginia Army National Guard help the Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad provide care for an injured man. Soldiers from C Company, 429th BSB worked side by side with civilian medical professionals at the University of Virginia Health Systems and also the Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad. (Photo by Sgt. Jesse L. Houk, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The Soldiers of C Company were able to interact with both the radiology and emergency department at the University of Virginia Health Systems and also were able to ride along with the Charlottesville-Albermarle Rescue Squad as it responded to emergency calls.   

The connection with the civilian medical community was established through 1st Lt. Jessica K. Melin, C Company health services support officer, who worked at the UVA hospital two years earlier.

“For years we didn’t go into the community, but now we are tapping into a resource we may have previously overlooked,” said Melin. “The more we reach out to the community the more they respond in a positive way.”   

Although this is only the second time Soldiers have teamed up with civilian medical professional that positive connection is evident.

“I was happy to get a phone call saying that the National Guard wanted to come back,” said John E. Burruss, deputy chief of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad. “Everyone down here really likes the job that they are doing so they really do enjoy sharing their knowledge with the Soldiers.”

Burruss has been a volunteer with the rescue squad for 30 years. There is a lot of information to be obtained through him and his staff but there is also a vast amount of knowledge that some Soldiers have in the medical field as well.

C Co., 429th BSB Soldiers

John E. Burruss, deputy chief of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad (center), Spc. Eli R. Lovell, combat medic for C Company, 429th BSB (right), and a Charlottesville-Albemarle firefighter discuss techniques and experiences within their respective fields. (Photo by Sgt. Jesse L. Houk, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Capt. Wesley R. Grieve, the company commander, is also a Prince William County fire and rescue technician. He is primarily a paramedic but is also trained as a firefighter. 

“The primary benefit of this training is that it boots the confidence level of medics because it allows the Soldiers to put their classroom knowledge into practice,” said Grieve. “As a medic you hate to see people who are hurt, but in doing so, it will help Soldiers maintain composure, stay calm and provide the necessary help when it counts.”

Skills are perishable and frequent practice is needed to maintain those skills that are so vital to being able to provide excellent medical support.

“Our sergeants always remind us that if you don’t use our training we will lose it and to go from five months of advanced individual training at Fort Sam Houston to one weekend a month, the risk of losing a skill is very high,” said Spc. Eli R. Lovell, a combat medic. “This training dramatically helps prevent the loss of skills that are important for the health and safety of the Solider. It ranks pretty high because it relates to the job that we do. We do so much common task training that our specific job sometimes gets neglected. This allows us to stay sharp.”

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