Why I Serve: Preparing Marines for Deployment
By Pfc. Lucian Friel
American Forces Press Service
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., Nov. 17, 2004 "I knew I would be good at what I do, and I love helping people. I'm glad I joined because it gave me the opportunity to work with Marines and teach them what they need to know to get ready for deployment," explained Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Shandon E. Torres.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Shandon E. Torres, the senior
corpsman of Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, helps a Marine
get bloody for the combat lifesaver course practical application at Onslow
Beach, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. The practical application was to
test Marines' ability and knowledge of the lifesaving steps instructed during
the course. Photo by Cpl. Adam C. Schnell, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The Roosevelt, Utah, native instructs the Marines of 2nd Marine Division as they participate in the Combat Lifesavers Course, which teaches the basics of treating wounds in combat.
The elements of this division are now serving in Iraq.
Torres begins with the heartsaver portion of the class, which is comprised of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. During the class he also teaches the symptoms of heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke, and choking; instructing the Marines on the chain of survival, the steps taken to treat victims of various heart and respiratory problems.
"The beginning of the class is important, because it's the foundations of learning how to treat a wounded Marine in a real world scenario," explained the senior corpsman of Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.
The Union High School graduate teaches the mechanisms of an injury to help Marines better understand what causes them such as blast related traumas, stab and gun-shot wounds. To assess the casualty with minimal mistakes, the Marines learn different ways to determine a life-threatening hazard or if a combat wound was severe enough for a medical evacuation, which Torres recalled was something a Marine in Haiti had to do.
While Torres was deployed to Haiti from March to July, a young corporal, whom he instructed, came across a civilian stabbed in the back during a riot. Because of the knowledge he learned in the course, he was able to treat her until Torres reached the scene.
"It's that type of situation that makes this course worth teaching for me," he explained. "When a Marine is able to treat someone who is seriously injured and save their life, it's an unbelievable feeling."
Knife, gun-shot wounds and illnesses were the most common injuries the 22-year- old was faced with in Haiti, but being a former emergency medical team specialist he had dealt with those types of injuries long before he joined the Navy.
Being an EMT in Roosevelt sparked Torres' interest in becoming a Navy corpsman because he knew the medical field was something he could excel in and enjoy doing.
Torres is assisted in the course by fellow corpsmen who have served in Iraq. They instruct Marines on burns as well as heat and cold injuries, which is the last indoor instruction period during the course.
"The most relevant information in the class, is the section dealing with heat injuries, because that's what Marines will most likely face in Iraq," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeremy M. Shelton, a corpsman with Headquarters Battalion. "Marines need this class so it's not a shock when they are faced with the injury."
"The end of the course is the best time for the instructors to see how well everyone learned the material. If someone makes a mistake, we correct it so they don't do the same thing in a combat zone," Torres said.
He and the other corpsmen are continuing to teach Marines how to save lives in combat to prepare them for deploying to Iraq.
"I love Marines' mentality to excel at everything they do," explained Torres. "It's the same mentality I have, and it makes it easier to teach them."
(Pfc. Lucian Friel is a combat correspondent with 2nd Marine Division.)