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BATTLEFIELD FIRST AID


"I am short a cheekbone and an ear, but am able to whip all hell yet."
- - COL. John Corse USA (During Confederate assault at Allatoona, GA, Oct 1864)

COMBAT EXPERIENCE

Medical personnel and evacuation capabilities will not always be available to treat and evacuate the wounded on the next battlefield. The life saving medical aid administered to casualties will be the responsibility of the individual soldier and his buddies. Combat first aid saves lives and helps preserve combat power. The following battlefield experiences demonstrate the need for all soldiers, officers and enlisted, to be able successfully to apply first aid to wounded or injured soldiers.

LESSON LEARNED

Team first aid often means team survival.

FALKLANDS

The 2d Battalion, Parachute Regiment (2 Para) began moving toward their objectives near the Darwin and Goose Green settlements in the Falklands. B Company made contact with Argentine forces at the Boca House near Darwin. A young paratrooper was hit in the back from machine gun fire. Two other young enlisted men who were nearby administered immediate first aid to the casualty and under fire dragged him back to a safe position for further evacuation. [30]

Two Scots Guardsmen were killed and eight wounded in a firefight during a night attack against defending Argentine forces on Tumbledown Mountain. The wounded were treated by other members of their unit and only then carried back to an aid station. Medical treatment was hours away and there was no means of reaching that help except on the backs of their buddies. Prior to reaching the aid station the evacuation party walked into an Argentine minefield. One of the soldiers carrying a wounded Guardsmen on his back, stepped on an anti-personnel mine. Both feet were shattered. Other guardsmen picked up this latest casualty and worked their way out of the minefield before administering first aid to him. None of the wounded would have survived to reach the aid station without prompt and correct first aid from their buddies. [31]

LESSON LEARNED

Each crew, section and squad must have at least one trained Combat Lifesaver. Soldiers can no longer rely upon instant evacuation from the battlefield.

FALKLANDS

Most engagements in the Falklands took place at night and during adverse weather conditions which reduced or delayed air evacuation in many cases. Many wounded, including some who had lost limbs, remained on the battlefield for periods up to seven hours before they were treated by medical officers. The task of keeping these men alive rested with soldiers initially and then the combat medic. This situation was contrary to U.S. experience in Vietnam, where casualties were only minutes by helicopter from the most modern hospitals.

LESSON LEARNED

Each field SOP should include a plan for treatment of wounded by nonmedical personnel.

GRENADA

In Grenada a brigade tactical operation center (TOC) was accidently attacked by friendly aircraft. Several soldiers were injured, three seriously. With no medics nearby, the survivors of the accident applied first aid to the wounded, resulting in saved lives. [33]

REFERENCES

References listed below will assist you in training and maintaining this proficiency.

STP 21-1 Soldier's Manual for Common Tasks, Skill Level 1, Oct 1985, contains 17 common tasks on first aid.

FM 21-11, First Aid for Soldiers, Oct 1985. This manual provides the "how to" for soldiers to train to the standards of the 17 common first aid tasks.

FC 8-15-1, Health Service Support Operations- -Light Infantry, and Air Assault Division, Aug 1986.

FC 8-45, Medical Evacuation in the Combat Zone, Oct 1986.

FM 7-71, Light Infantry Company, Aug 1987.

BOTTOM LINE

Buddy aid equals buddy survival. Train your men now as Combat Lifesavers.


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