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Palace Drill Prepares Combat Lifesavers for Real-Life Attack

By Spc. James P. Hunter, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq, Feb. 20, 2006 – Just as any other day at Al Faw Palace, soldiers work to continue the mission of freeing Iraq. Boom! Suddenly the palace shakes and the noise within becomes faint. Soldiers run around frantically, trying to figure out what has went wrong.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Combat lifesavers and litter teams at Al Faw Palace in Iraq train to provide emergency medical care in the event of an attack on the palace. Photo by Spc. James P. Hunter, USA

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

A bomb went off within the palace. Seven soldiers lie wounded on the ground. Combat lifesavers rush over to provide the casualties with medical aid.

Thankfully, this scenario was an exercise based on a simulated attack on the palace Feb. 17.

The exercise prepares soldiers within the palace in the event of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, bombs, mortar attacks or for the worst-case scenario, said Army 2nd Lt. Albert Park, officer in charge, Headquarters Commandant, Multinational Corps Iraq.

Park and his soldiers provide command and control for the palace by facilitating personnel to designated locations in case of an attack. Once the attack occurs, they check with each section for casualties and direct their combat lifesavers and litter teams to meet at the rally points on each floor. Each section has trained teams ready to provide initial aid to casualties.

Once each team is accounted for at the rally points, they are distributed throughout their floor to treat each patient and evacuate the casualties to the nearest casualty collection point. There, the surgeon, tactical medical center and medevac stand ready to provide further medical treatment.

Once each patient has been treated and evacuated and the palace is secured, Park takes accountability of all MNC-I and Multinational Force Iraq personnel. Until 100 percent accountability is reached, each section reports its accountability status each hour.

Sgt. 1st Class Shaun Silas from the MNC-I Inspector General's Office said combat lifesavers must ensure all patients have been identified, treated and evacuated, leaving no soldier behind.

"(Combat lifesavers) are the first responders between someone living and dying," said Sgt. Maj. Anthony C. Kendrick from MNC-I's Surgeon's Cell. "They are going to make the initial contact with the soldier."

Kendrick said that the exercise is real and soldiers need to focus and take the training serious. "It's critical. It's about saving lives and handling people," he said. "It's imperative that we get people taken care of."

The exercise gave the palace staff a chance to see where they stood medically, to find their weak points and improve upon them, Kendrick said. "This exercise gives the soldiers food to digest as they go to sleep tonight," he said.

It' important that the combat lifesavers continue to train to meet the needs of the patients in the event that a situation like this would occur, he said.

The soldiers have been through the combat lifesavers course, but no training matches the hands-on experience they receive with an exercise of this magnitude, Silas said.

The training should not be taken lightly, said Park. Every soldier is fighting this war together, he said, so they need to continue to look after one another and fight as one.

(Spc. James P. Hunter is assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's 49th Public Affairs Detachment (Airborne).)

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Multinational Force Iraq

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