‘Lifesavers’ endure training to meet support qualifications
July 26, 2004
SAGAMI DEPOT, Japan — Twenty-five soldiers from four units re-earned their combat lifesaver support qualifications and vied for a medal as part of a unique training competition Friday.
Every six months, soldiers must requalify for their certification.
Lt. Col. Lee Stockland, commander of the 35th Supply and Service Battalion at Sagami Depot, decided to make the qualification sustainment program more life-like with a simulated battlefield exercise.
He used a competition to “rev up” the motivation. Top qualification scorers earned a few days of leave and first place winner 2nd Lt. Vincent Tatum earned an Army Achievement Medal.
“We put a little spin on it to make it fun,” said Capt. Dan Reichard, commander of headquarters, headquarters detachment for the 35th.
“Soldiers love training. The more realistic it is, the more they have fun,” said Stockland.
The soldiers had to complete several tasks including giving an intravenous solution, carrying a buddy using two connected pistol belts and applying bandages to serious wounds.
The exercise was done in full combat gear at battle speed to add to the realism. Because it was competitive, soldiers worked fast under flak vests and helmets.
“It’s not something we do that often. It’s kind of stressful,” said Spc. Beatrice Gouacide, with the 35th Supply and Service Battalion training office. “Just like weapons or PT (physical training), it’s a skill we need to keep up.”
During a class, she said, soldiers learn the steps they must take, but only through life-like training do they gain the experience.
“The psychology [of screaming victims] — you have to learn to deal with that,” she said. “Nobody’s really ready for [combat] but at least we have the skills.”
During a triage segment, soldiers raced to assess and treat screaming victims wearing moulage — simulated wounds — while speakers blared the soundtrack from a battle scene of a movie. Evaluators chased the soldiers, screaming at them to make the scene more chaotic.
During the bandage segment, fake blood and more screaming made the scene eerily real.
“You really feel like you’re in the environment of a war,” said Pfc. Nelly Cavalie, also with the 35th. “We need this training. We need to feel it; we need to sweat, to feel the heat and the cold.”
In addition to training with real life situations, Stockland hopes to surpass the Army’s minimum requirements and get every battalion soldier combat lifesaver certified. The Army only requires one person per section or squad to be certified, he said.
“I was looking for a way to sustain the training that medics give them,” Stockland said. “It’s a great skill to have during peacetime or on the battlefield.”