JOINT TRAINING CENTER, Jordan – Combat medics with 38th Infantry Division, Task Force Spartan, Indiana National Guard, hosted a Combat Lifesaver (CLS) course Oct. 13-16, teaching lifesaving techniques that may one day prevent the death of a fellow Soldier.
The phrase, “I will always place the mission first, I will never accept defeat, I will never quit, I will never leave a fallen comrade,” is the U.S. Army Warrior Ethos drilled into every Soldier during Basic Combat Training. A situation can turn from sweet to tart within seconds, and Soldiers must be able to complete the mission, remain mentally agile and prevent death by fighting back and securing the area to administer medical aid.
“If you don’t return fire, you are not going to be able to move up and take care of that casualty,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Coleman, a combat medic with 38th Infantry Division, Task Force Spartan, Indiana National Guard.
According to the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School Department of Combat Medic Training, about 90% of combat deaths occur on the battlefield. Proper use of self aid, buddy aid and combat lifesaver skills can reduce battlefield deaths by 15% to 18%.
Coleman, an instructor for the CLS course, has been a combat medic with the Indiana National Guard for 10 years and works as an emergency medical technician at a Level I pediatric trauma center in his civilian occupation. He is exposed to life-threatening injuries daily at the trauma center, which he said helps him to evaluate not only patients but their surroundings better. He applies this skill in both civilian and military situations.
Combat medics can only work on one individual at a time, treating the most severely injured first. If there are multiple casualties, or the medic is injured, CLSs are instrumental in potentially saving lives. During the course, CLSs were trained to provide immediate care categorized as care under fire, tactical field care and tactical evacuation.
Care under fire consists of using a tourniquet to stop life-threatening bleeding, but returning fire to kill the enemy remains the primary mission.
“You are always a Soldier first, and you have to make sure the area is safe,” explained Coleman, “If the area isn’t safe, you won’t be able to properly treat them, and more soldiers will be at risk.”
The students learned such procedures as how to clear a blocked airway using a nasopharyngeal, how to treat hypovolemic shock and an open chest wound, and how to apply tourniquets to stop arterial bleeding.
A combat lifesaver may also assist combat medics in preparing casualties for evacuation. This includes properly filling out a U.S. field medical card, or tactical combat casualty care card, and transmitting a 9 Line medical evacuation request.
The goal of the course was to equip Soldiers with the skills to decrease the number of deaths in the field, which starts with basic techniques such as focusing on opening airways and controlling blood loss. A combat lifesaver is the bridge between the self-aid and buddy-aid.
“To be able to bring them back, we have to be able to provide lifesaving interventions right there on scene,” explained Coleman, “Otherwise, they may not make it back.”