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Corpsmen Train to Deploy with Marines in OIF

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050131-07
Release Date: 1/31/2005 7:00:00 PM

By Marine Cpl. John E. Lawson Jr., 2nd Force Service Support Group Public Affairs

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (NNS) -- The Sailors of 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group, along with other corpsmen from different commands from as far away as Rota, Spain, participated in a Just-In-Time Medical Augmentation Program Exercise (JIT/MAPEX) here, culminating with a Mass Casualty Exercise and Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC) drill Jan. 20.

The JIT/MAPEX was a 17-day training evolution ending Jan. 21, preparing the corpsmen for upcoming deployments to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the global war on terrorism. More than 300 Sailors from the battalion and augmentation units participated in the exercise, said Lt. Joseph S. Jenkins, operations officer.

The battalion's augmentation personnel are mostly hospital corpsmen and doctors from the naval hospitals and medical centers in Jacksonville, Fla.; Portsmouth, Va.; Camp Lejeune, N.C.; Pensacola, Fla.; Rota, Spain; National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md.; and Naval Reserve Readiness Center, Atlanta.

The augmentees' role in the MAP differs from their traditional duties because they are now in a field environment, rather than operating within the controlled conditions of a hospital, Jenkins said.

"This training provides essential field and platform-specific training subjects to MAP personnel to fully prepare them to support the operating forces. The commanding general of [II Marine Expeditionary Force] requires that all personnel deploying to [Operation Iraqi Freedom] receive specialized training in field survival skills," Jenkins said. "Additionally, based on the battalion commander's guidance, the 2nd Medical Battalion has the responsibility to ensure deploying personnel receive the training traditionally taught at MAPEXs."

Classes and periods of instruction included briefings on the current situation in Iraq, security training, application of communications gear, land navigation, Improvised Explosive Device training, medical regulating classes, convoy operations exercises, functional medical areas training and other training, said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Joselito A. Jamero, leading petty officer of operations and a Manila, Philippines, native.

The patient flow/mass casualty exercise, a walkthrough and simulation of what the corpsmen would do to treat a wounded Marine in theater, included the implementation of Shock Trauma Platoons and a higher-echelon treatment area, a Forward Resuscitative Surgical System. The STP provides the first treatment a patient usually receives after being extracted from the point of injury.

"During the care of the patient on the table or in the ward, STP has outstanding equipment to take care of up to fifty patients and all of their healthcare needs: trauma, comfort, and holding until evacuation to a higher echelon," Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Steven D. Chatier said.

The battalion's training included participation from about 30 Sailors in a CASEVAC drill conducted by the Casualty Evacuation Program, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, with more than 50 other corpsmen from I, II and III Marine Expeditionary Force units.

Chief Hospital Corpsman Robert E. Brown, program manager for the CASEVAC Program and a Denver native, said the drill was part of a 10-day course the other units' corpsmen participated in, graduating at Marine Corps Air Station New River Jan 21.

"[Providing medical care in a helicopter] isn't the same as providing it in a [Battalion Aid Station], Naval hospital or other controlled treatment facility," he said. "In the helicopters, you have to compete with the noise, vibration, wind, temperature changes and other factors."

The CASEVAC course teaches the corpsmen to deal with the challenges the environment around and aboard a helicopter presents, and gives the corpsmen a chance to "get their sea legs" and learn to treat patients as the helicopter maneuvers through the air.

"Aboard a helicopter stethoscopes won't work; there is too much noise," he said. "We have to use touching and feeling more, utilizing our senses to treat a patient."

The utilization of helicopter-based CASEVACs from "hot" landing zones, directly at the point of injury, drastically increases the chances of survival for an injured Marine, he said.

"If a Marine gives us 110 percent in combat, we will give him 130 percent to pick him up and get him to the next echelon of care," he added.

While the Sailors of 2nd Medical Battalion did not participate in the aircraft wing's CASEVAC program, they did participate in the drill in order to get the experience.

"Overall I was incredibly impressed by the performance of the personnel participating [in the JIT/MAPEX]," said Cmdr. Dave E. Gibson, battalion commander. "I am proud of the 2nd Medical Battalion and other personnel who put on the training".

"In the 25 years I have been doing this, this is the best mix of medical professionals I've ever seen," he said. "They are incredibly motivated and ready to do the mission."



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