7th Army Reserve Command teaches lifesaving techniques
RAF FELTWELL, England — Soldiers of the 7th Army Reserve Command have spent this week the way they spend many weeks — saving lives.
Members of the Medical Support Unit-Europe based in Heidelberg, Germany, have been in England since Monday teaching airmen with the 48th Fighter Wing how to provide immediate treatment for someone wounded on the battlefield.
“Those first few minutes can mean life or death,” said Spc. Bart Bruley, one of the instructors.
The MSU-E offers the training to military members regardless of service or job specialty to increase the number of people on a battlefield who can administer that initial care.
Maj. Dawn Flynn, nurse training officer for the Army unit, said figures from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom credit combat lifesaver skills with a 20 percent increase in survivors.
The airmen, mostly with the 48th Security Forces Squadron and the 48th Civil Engineer Squadron’s explosive ordnance flight, learned how to treat head wounds and chest wounds, cold and heat injuries, burns and other likely combat wounds.
On Wednesday, they learned how to provide fluids intravenously, which required extensive poking with needles.
“The No. 1 killer on the battlefield is shock,” said Flynn, usually from blood loss.
The ability to provide fluids by intravenous means increases the survival chances.
“We lose less than 5 percent once that [wounded servicemember] comes off the battlefield,” she said.
For the airmen, poking one another with needles was no fun — for the poker or the pokee.
While those on the receiving end experienced discomfort or pain, plus a bit of bleeding now and then, the airmen doing the sticking felt bad inflicting the pain.
“As soon as you get in [the vein], stop, take one breath and go on,” Bruley told reluctant trainees.
Senior Airman Randy Earp of the 48th Security Forces Squadron thinks he’ll be able to put the training to use if the need arises.
“I’ll be nervous because it will be the first time I’ll be doing it,” he said. “But I’ll feel comfortable.”
He said the visiting soldiers were good instructors.
“They know what they’re doing,” he said. “It’s effective.”
Flynn said the expertise comes with repetition. The unit travels throughout Europe to provide the training.
Once, it trained soldiers from Bosnia-Herzegovina who were on their way to Iraq and will soon return to Bosnia to provide more instruction.
“We have missions back to back for the next two months,” she said.
Flynn said the importance of the effort is reinforced from time to time when troops downrange send e-mails telling how they used the training to save a life.
One came recently, she said, from someone who saved the life of a soldier who had lost both legs.
“We get feedback like that all the time,” Flynn said.