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U.S. Army Spc. John Lewis, combat lifesaver course instructor, watches as Pvt. Vincent Medrek applies a tourniquet to Pvt. Travis Hirsch last Thursday. All three soldiers are part of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Battalion, 77th Artillery, 4th Brigade Combat Team. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Adam Buehler
Soldiers Prepare with Lifesaving Skills
By U.S. Army Pfc. Adam Buehler / 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs

FORT HOOD, Texas, March 9, 2005 – Each week, a new group of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division soldiers acquire a new set of skills through a weeklong combat lifesavers course in preparation for deployment later this year.

The training, which teaches the basics of combat lifesaving medical skills, is of such importance that 4th Brigade Combat Team leaders are requiring all brigade soldiers to attend the course prior to deployment.

"Medics can’t be everywhere at all times, so we count on soldiers to save their buddies until we can get there."
U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Hatley

“This is very important training, which is why we’re shooting for 100 percent of our soldiers to get qualified,” said Sgt. Christopher Hatley, 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery head instructor and a combat medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2-77 FA.

“Medics can’t be everywhere at all times, so we count on soldiers to save their buddies until we can get there,” said Hatley.

The reason for the training is to augment the number of combat medics in the field. A combat lifesavers trained soldier can treat minor wounds and stabilize an injured soldier until medics or doctors take over.

Spc. John Lewis, a combat medic with HHB, 2-77 FA, and a course instructor, said the training covered much more material than a civilian course would.

Graduates of the course can prescribe over-the-counter medications and are also trained in field sanitation.

“We throw combat situations into the mix,” said Lewis.

“It makes it all the more important that soldiers learn this stuff because you never know when you’re going to need to save someone in combat.”

The classes are on Mondays and one week in length. Despite the short duration, coupled with the vast amount of information, Hatley said soldiers have done well.

“This is the first class Headquarters and Headquarters Battery have taught,” said Hatley, “but everyone is doing pretty well. We provide soldiers the information in a variety of ways. It’s a combination of slide shows, book reading and hands-on. There is a hands-on exercise with everything we cover in the book.”

Pvt. Travis Hirsch, a power generator mechanic with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2-77 FA, said the training was extensive and beneficial.

“We learned everything from evacuating a casualty to treating chest and head wounds and fractures,” said Hirsch. “It is good training to have because you just never know. Anything can happen and everyone should be prepared.”

For soldiers who haven’t taken the course yet, Lewis said they shouldn’t worry. The information taught to soldiers comes directly from approved training support material; so if the class is taken seriously, no one will have a problem becoming qualified.

“There is a written guideline, like a checklist, that we teach and grade by,” said Lewis. “We expect soldiers to know every process step-by-step; however, the most important thing is to save the life of the patient. If a soldier forgets a step or two but still succeeds in saving the life of the casualty, then the training was successful.”

Once soldiers become initially certified, they will have a mandatory retest every following year to ensure they’ve retained the knowledge.

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