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CALL Newsletter 04-13
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
CAAT II Initial Impressions Report (IIR)

Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
CAAT II Initial Impressions Report (IIR)

Chapter 4: Combat Service Support
Topic F: Health Service Support

Subtopic 3: Combat Lifesavers (CLS)

Observation Synopsis

Ensure unit's combat lifesavers (CLS) are fully trained and understand their role in the medical treatment process. Once-yearly training is insufficient to ensure they can perform necessary duties in a critical situation. There was at least one incident on the road where the targeted unit was rendered ineffective in terms of medical treatment by an improvised explosive device (IED) attack that resulted in several casualties. Another unit passing by stopped and took control of the situation, including providing medical care to the wounded. Specifically, CLS need extensive training in starting intravenous (IV) lines and providing appropriate first responder aid. Starting IVs is a skill that is difficult to do in controlled settings for the inexperienced (like the vast majority of combat lifesavers), and almost impossible to do in an emergency without prior proficiency. All vehicles traveling in a convoy should have at least one combat lifesaver with their bag. Vehicle first aid kits, though useful for minor injuries, are not sufficient for major traumas associated with IED, small arms, or rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attacks on convoys. On more than one occasion, combat lifesavers did not have their bags available or in their possession because they were kept locked up or in storage to keep from losing them or to maintain accountability.

Lessons Learned

  • Convoy commanders need to ensure a sufficient number of CLS providers are included in the personnel of each convoy.
  • Prior to deployment, all combat lifesavers need to be trained and certified, have possession of their CLS bags, and exhibit confidence in using the enclosed medical supplies.

DOTMLPF Implications

Training: Recommend at least quarterly hands-on training, especially an IV starting workshop, and not just a paper or lecture review of basics to "check the block."

Table of Supporting Observations

Observation Title CALLCOMS
File Number
Combat Lifesavers 10000-43949

Table of Contents
Chapter 4-Topic F-Subtopic 2: Medical Logistics Personnel
Chapter 4-Topic F-Subtopic 4: Field Sanitation Teams

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