MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER, TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Since 1898, Navy hospital corpsmen have been serving the Marine Corps and saving Marines’ lives during combat.
But what happens when the corpsmen go down?
That is exactly what approximately 50 Marines from 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, prepared for during the Combat Lifesaver Course March 9 through March 13.
The course, which certifies Marines as combat lifesavers, is designed to teach Marines to properly assess, triage, treat and prepare casualties for evacuation during the stresses of combat.
Each day the Marines spent the mornings in the classroom learning the technical aspects of the course, followed by practical application sessions during the afternoons where they applied what they learned, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Kody Watkins, the training petty officer for 2/7 and course instructor.
This course allows corpsmen on the battlefield to call on combat lifesavers to assist them when there are situations with multiple casualties or when the corpsmen themselves are injured, said the Inez, Texas native.
Students learned how to treat many types of typical battlefield injuries including hemorrhaging, burns, broken bones, obstructed airways, severed limbs and sucking chest wounds, he said.
“One of the most important parts of the course is training students to realize which injuries are more life-threatening and should be treated first,” Watkins said.
Students also learn the proper way to place an intravenous tube, or IV, in the casualty’s arms, feet and head, although they only practice putting one in the arm.
“Placing an IV is nerve-wracking your first time,” said Pfc. Robert McCabe, a rifleman with 2/7 and student in the course. “The instructors helped us through it though.”
After a week of training, students’ lifesaving knowledge was put to the test in their final evaluation to become combat lifesavers.
They first donned a combat load, including helmet, flak jacket and medical pack, then sprinted nearly 200 yards to a simulated casualty. As soon as they reached the “wounded” man they immediately assessed the victim to see what was wrong with him.
After treating the victim, they properly transported him to the simulated helicopter rendezvous point. Upon arrival the students had to tell a waiting instructor what was wrong with the victim and what they did to remedy the situation.
They then determined if the casualty was in need of an IV and if needed, an IV was given to the casualty.
Even though the training doesn’t exactly replicate real combat scenarios, it does a good job preparing students for emergencies on the battlefield, said Cpl. Francisco Velazques, a rifleman with 2/7 and Combat Lifesaver Course student.
“I think it’s great that junior Marines are being taught to save lives,” he said. “Early in their careers is a good time to go through training like this.”
McCabe, a Woodland, Calif. native, agreed with Velazques saying he feels very confident treating a casualty on the battlefield after this course.