Soldiers train on battlefield casualty care at Camp Pendleton

Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers from the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group take part in hands on training for battlefield casualty care Sept. 5, 2013, at Camp Pendleton, Va. during the 40-hour Combat Lifesaver Course. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers from the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group take part in hands on training for battlefield casualty care Sept. 5, 2013, at Camp Pendleton, Va. during the 40-hour Combat Lifesaver Course. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A total of 13 Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers participated in a Combat Lifesaver course Sept. 3-6, 2013 at Camp Pendleton, Va. The course was conducted jointly by the Virginia Guard’s Medical Command and the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute and taught the basics in battlefield casualty care such as CPR, controlling bleeding, treating shock and requesting medical evacuations.

“This course is designed to take any Soldier, regardless of their job, and give them the skills above self aid and buddy aid but under that of a combat medic,” said Col. Gary Williamson, commander of the Virginia Army Guard Medical Command. “It bridges the gap between the two. After this they can then go to someone who’s been wounded and treat a variety of wounds, including heavy bleeding and penetrating chest wounds.”

The students also learned about a variety of casualty evacuation methods, including buddy carries and calling in a 9-line medical evacuation request.

The class consisted of 40 hours of classroom instruction, a written test, and practical exercises and evaluation. During the practical exercises, the Soldiers were tasked with treating fellow Soldiers in a combat environment, while under fire from enemy combatants.

“The whole time they do this, they are going to be focused on their surroundings, from the threat around them as they perform their job,” Williamson said. “So this is a challenge both physically and mentally.”

Despite the stress, the Soldiers are expected to know and carry out the proper steps for treatment and evacuation, according to Staff Sgt. Justin Sprague, a combat medic with MEDCOM, served as the noncommissioned officer of the course.

“We go through each and every step when we’re teaching them and then reinforce the standard,” he said. “We hold them 100% to the standard and if they miss anything, we will go back and explain any step they missed. But they have to get it right.”

Pfc. Joseph Kidd, from the Virginia Beach-based 229th Military Police Company, was one of the Soldiers in the class. Although he went through the Combat Lifesaver Course in basic training, he still found this one valuable.

“It’s different than the one I went through in basic training but it was also very effective,” he said. “It’s a different environment and different scenarios, just like in real life. It’s hard to remember all your steps when you’re on the spot but if you just calm down and think about it, it comes back to you.”

Three more classes, with 30 seats each, are scheduled to be offered by MEDCOM and the 183rd RTI at Fort Pickett over the next month to any interested Virginia Guard Soldiers.