MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Marines and sailors from Combat Logistics Battalion 3, III Marine Expeditionary Force combined with augmented Marines and sailors from Okinawa-based units, participated in First Responder Lane Training during an Enhanced Mojave Viper pre-deployment training experience here, July 15.
The training is designed to give Marines and sailors a chance to practice first-responder medical skills, set up security, call in a casualty evacuation and secure a casualty collection point.
While most of the Marines and sailors expected this sort of training to take place during EMV, they didn’t expect the simulated casualties to be so realistic. The casualties used during this training evolution were real amputees dressed in Marine camouflage and, after some help from make-up artists, their wounds appeared fresh.
“When [Marines and sailors] see us actually missing limbs it brings a whole new reality to the training,” said James “Pops” Sullivan, a bilateral leg amputee, actor and role player for Strategic Operations, a company contracted by the military to provide more realistic training.
To develop the scenario, Marines patrolled on foot along a road until the sound of an incoming mortar was heard and they instinctively hit the deck. Almost instantly, cries of help could be heard from four simulated casualties inside of a mangled Humvee.
As the patrol set up 360 degree security around the vehicle the rest of the squad approached the wounded. Most of the “wounded” had severe injuries and several had amputations to one or both of their legs or arms. The Marines and sailors began to apply tourniquets and move the wounded to a secured casualty collection point approximately 50 yards to the rear.
“This allows [trainees] to see how they’re going to respond both mentally and physically to realistic combat wounds,” said Chief John Pellior, evaluator, Tactical Training Exercise Control Group, Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms. “It will help prevent the shock so their reaction time will be quicker.”
While the wounded were being assessed and treated, other Marines called in a mock CASEVAC using the nine-line procedures taught in a previous class. Some of the patients acted as if they were in shock and tried to fight off the Marines helping them. The exercise continued until all of the patients were correctly treated and stabilized.
The Marines and sailors, who took part, were evaluated by trainers stationed at the Combat Center. They received after action briefs and advice from the evaluators and medical personnel overseeing the exercise.
“The training overall was helpful not only to me but also for my junior Marines on their first deployment,” said Sgt. Robert Torres, military policeman and 1st squad leader, Military Police Platoon, CLB 3. “It helped us realize how serious these injuries can be and how to respond without the shock.”
One role player said he was grateful for the opportunity to help Marines train, and for the gratitude he received in return.
“I’ve had a couple guys come back and find me just to tell me thank you,” said Sullivan, who lost both his legs in a construction accident. “It’s our way of giving back; otherwise we wouldn’t be out here in 110 degree heat.”
The amputees are not the only ones who are thankful for the experience.
“This is one of the most realistic training events I’ve ever been through,” said Torres, a 26-year old native of Decatur, Texas. “This definitely enhanced our unit capabilities and small-unit leadership.”
The reinforced CLB-3 will deploy in support of 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) to Afghanistan soon. They will be joined by more than 400 Marines and sailors augmented from Okinawa.