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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Docs MAP out combat medical aid

By Sgt. Robert Piper | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | November 09, 2000

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON -- A long line of field ambulances, with their distinguishable white boxes and red crosses plastered all over, roll in as morning breaks.  The enemy attacked at dawn, and the Marines have suffered heavy casualties.  The lives of this fresh batch rest solely in the hands of medical personnel at an echelon two facility, the second line of care, whose decisions will either save or kill those wheeled in.

This is why the Navy sends its sailors from the western regions, both enlisted and officers, to Medical Augmentie Personnel training with the 1st Medical Battalion, 1st First Service Support Group.   

The program is designed for any corpsman or officer assigned to a deployable billet, to include reservists, said Petty Officer 3rd class Edgard B. Lanuza, Hospital Corpsman. A Company, 1st Medical Bn.

?We show them how to set-up a surgical company in the field and what life will be like in a combat environment,? Lanuza said.  ?Then we throw any scenario in which our troops met some form of resistance, whether it be enemy fire or a generator blowing up, and seeing what decisions are made under stress.?

The stresses included time constraints, supply shortages, shouting instructors and injured troops with massive head wounds, among other things.

?The casualty simulations have been brutal,? said Petty Officer 3rd class Mark A. Gomez, Hospital Corpsman, education and training department, Naval Hospital, Corpus Christi, Texas. said, ?we?ve been overrun with patients ? we need more manpower.?

While the sheer number of patients makes a situation complex, it?s the ability to make instantaneous decisions pertaining to these patients that is highly stressed during the training.

?Quickly sorting the patients in order of priority is the key.?  ?We really have to get up and go, or somebody loses their life ? it?s already happened out here (simulated deaths) a couple of times,? said, Petty Officer 3rd Class Rachelle Harvey, Hospital Corpsman, emergency medical treatment dept., Naval Medical Center, San Diego.

To ensure aid is quickly applied, the sailors were divided into two teams.  The Shock Treatment Platoon received the incoming casualties and gave them a quick evaluation.  Then the patients were sent to the Surgical Shock Treatment team for further care.  Although these teams had separate missions, they quickly learned to work together.

?The only way we got anything accomplished was to pull together as a team,? Harvey said. 

?The mission requires us to be highly mobile and flexible, without everybody doing their part that was not going to happen,? Gomez said.

Giving personnel life-like experiences to use in the future is the goal of MAP training, Lanuza said.

?This has been a good wake-up call to reality,? Harvey said.

Even those who are attached to Marine units acknowledge the value of the training.

?It?s a good refresher for an actual situation ? it forces you to get accustomed to working with people you don?t know,? Seaman William Sekalias, Hospitalman, A Company, 1st Medical Bn., said.  ?The more we practice together, the better we?ll perform in real life.

The advanced party left Oct. 29, to set-up for the training in the Las Flores area.  The remainder of participating sailors left for the field Oct. 30, and returned Friday.

Before returning, the students were upbeat and positive while reflecting on what was learned.

?For people who have never been stationed with Marines or put into the field with limited supplies, this is a great program.  Everybody should experience this,? Gomez said.  ?We have a superior awareness as far as what to expect and how to perform under combat stress that others simply do not have.?

Marines around the world can feel confident that while we?re winning battles, those who are injured along the way are receiving treatment from some well-trained ?docs.?


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