CLR-35 corpsmen hone emergency medical skills
GWANGYANG, South Korea -- The pained cries of simulated victims echo throughout the camp as corpsmen race to find and triage victims during a mass casualty evacuation drill during Freedom Banner 14 in Gwangyang, Republic of Korea March 6.
Freedom Banner, an annual exercise set to begin March 10 and lasts through Apr. 17, will project U.S. military power and exercise maritime preposition force ship offloading capabilities similar to what would occur during a wartime or disaster relief scenario while giving Marines an opportunity to strengthen ties between the U. S. and the Republic of Korea.
“We ran through all the places on the base where we could have an accident and have made arrangements in case something was to happen with the Marines there,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Tiffany D. Carlson, battalion surgeon with Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “These drills simulate those scenarios and are really great for our new corpsmen that haven’t been out in combat and haven’t had a lot of casualty experience.”
During the drill, simulated victims were placed at random locations around the camp with a wide variety of injuries for the corpsmen to triage, according to Carlson.
“During this scenario, we simulated a generator explosion in the back of the (mess) hall, so there was fire and chaos,” said Carlson. “There were some cuts, burns, various pains, amputations and one death.”
The victims of the drill lay on the ground near the generator, awaiting medical aid from the corpsmen.
“When we first arrive on site we categorize victims by their injuries and decide who needs immediate medical attention and who can wait,” said Carlson. “After providing the (seriously injured) victims basic first-aid, we run them back to the medical tent and provide further medical care and re-triage the victims to make sure their vitals are still stable.”
Once the immediate category of drill victims were re-triaged and deemed ready to move safely, they were loaded into an ambulance and quickly driven to a hospital.
“Once we get the serious patients taken care of, we moved to our other categories,” said Carlson. “There’s the delayed category of victims who are fairly seriously injured, but not requiring immediate attention, followed by the minimal category, which are those patients who have minor injuries.”
The drills do more than just offer corpsmen an opportunity to hone their medical trauma skills, it allows the camp as a whole to work through issues it experiences during the drill, things move more fluidly in a real-life scenario, according to Carlson.
“What we were looking for today, besides our medical side of the drill, was to make sure that communications with the command operations center worked (accordingly) and all the information we passed up got through to them,” said Petty Officer 1st Class John C. Crockett, a hospital corpsman with the regiment. “Our primary goal as corpsmen is to ensure we save life, limb, or eyesight, but we also need to ensure that the COC gets all necessary information about the victims so they can begin passing it through their chains of command.”
Both the drill victims and the medical personnel felt that the drill was successful, according to Crockett.
“Today was probably the best we’ve done because the drill was so smooth,” said Crockett. “The corpsmen reacted like they needed to and the communications between us and the COC were solid, so this was a good drill.”
When the drill concluded, many of the mock victims gathered around to talk about the experience and how they felt they were treated.
“I (simulated) severe burns on my left bicep all the way up to my shoulder,” said Lance Cpl. Hosia D. Garcia, a motor transport operator with CLR-35. “When they first got to me, they cut the clothing around the burn then gave me some burn ointment and got me wrapped up.”
After receiving first-aid, he was quickly taken to the triage area where further medical care was provided to him, according to Garcia.
“I think they did an extremely good job,” said Garcia. “It was very fast, I honestly feel safer after this drill because of how well they performed their job.”