Subscribe
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Douglas Angulo Sr. holds up a package of QuickClot, one of the newest additions to the corpsman's field medical kits.

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Douglas Angulo Sr. holds up a package of QuickClot, one of the newest additions to the corpsman's field medical kits. (Mark Oliva / S&S)

CAMP COYOTE, Kuwait — Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Douglas Angulo Sr. has been through this drill before.

During the Persian Gulf War, Angulo served as a corpsman with Marines. Today, he’s back with a whole new bag of tricks to keep Marines alive.

Affectionately known as “Doc,” Angulo is the senior corpsman with G Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines.

Twelve years ago, he carried a small green pack that held a couple IV bags, some pain medication and medical tape, but not much else. Now, he’s a walking emergency room.

He still carries IV bags and medical tape, but the list goes much further. The backpack medical kit is an arrangement of pouches and pockets, which are stuffed with bottles of saline, burn blankets, pressure dressings and rubber gloves.

“We keep a bottle of alcohol and hydrogen peroxide to clean wounds,” Angulo said. “We also carry epinephrine shots for those Marines in our company we know have allergies. We’ve got neck braces and I keep a stapler … to staple a wound shut if I need to.”

One of the newest additions to the corpsman’s kit is a vacuum-sealed pouch of QuickClot, a chemical used to staunch blood flow so casualties can be evacuated.

“If we had to use it, we’d just wipe the wound as dry as we could,” Angulo explained. “You pour it a little like gunpowder and it acts like a chemical reaction to the blood and clots the wound.

“It’s reassuring because we can send off a casualty knowing that the wound isn’t bleeding out, instead of hoping the pressure dressing will hold.”

Each Marine also carries his own supply of anti-nerve agents, including a dose of Valium in case of exposure. But it’s not the only narcotic. Every corpsman also packs out two Syrettes of morphine.

Furthermore, Marines are being trained in combat first aid. They’re learning how to treat wounds, handle casualties and even call in evacuations if needed.

“We’ve been instilling that more with the Marines these days,” said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Tom Weigmann, another corpsman with G Company. “They’ve got to be able to do almost everything we do. What happens if a corpsman goes down? The mission can’t stop, and you can’t leave a Marine to bleed to death. This way, even if something happens to us, casualties can still be treated.”

But the company’s bag of tricks for battlefield survival goes further than standard military training.

The unit is made almost entirely of reservists, and the unit’s seven corpsmen work in the medical field. Most have registered nursing degrees. One is an orthopedic specialist, while another is an operating room technician. Still, another is practiced on performing emergency tracheotomies.

Angulo said medical care for the wounded Marine now would be similar during the Gulf War. Aid stations will travel with every battalion. Farther from the front, entire medical battalions can set up field hospitals to perform lifesaving surgeries.

“The mission is going to dictate how fast we can get a wounded Marine off the battlefield,” he said. “If we have the upper hand in the fight, we can get a casualty to the surgeon in about 30 or 40 minutes.”

“I tell my guys that if there’s something I can do for them, I'm going to do it,” said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Aaron Nighthawk, another corpsman in G Company. “Sometimes it’s not up to me, but we’re all in this together. Sometimes the best medicine is fire superiority.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up