Featured News

Headquarters Marines and sailors learn basic combat life saving skills

14 May 2009 | Lance Cpl. Zachary J. Nola

Since the Marine Corps’ inception, one of its most famous traditions is the phrase “every Marine is a rifleman.’”

While the Marine Corps has not tried to train every Marine to be proficient in every military occupational specialty, there have been efforts to train Marines in various professions other then their primary MOS.

One important example of this is the training provided by experienced hospital corpsmen during variations of the Combat Life Savers Course, which instructs Marines on how to save the life of a wounded comrade, should no corpsman be present or able to render aid.

During the five-day Required Operation Combat Exercise here, part of 1st Marine Division’s Desert Scorpion training scenario, Marines and sailors from Headquarters Battalion learned Basic Combat Life Saver curriculum during a half-day seminar and practical application April 30.

“Combat life-saving courses train Marines to readily assist corpsmen in a field environment,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason Brock, 33, the lead petty officer, battalion aid station, HQ Bn., who is from Jonesboro, Ga. “A lot of fire patrols only have one corpsman on the scene, and you can never have too many people medically trained.”

While the complete Combat Life Saver Course is 10 days long, the ROCEX training still had a lot to offer those in attendance by reaffirming basic medical knowledge.

“Today’s goal was just a basic overview refresher course,” said Brock, who has deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. “I think these basic skills are very important. Not every truck is going to have a corpsman, not every foot patrol is going to have a corpsman, and this is basic life-saving stuff that will help save fellow Marines.” 

To kick off the event, Brock addressed the numerous types of injuries common among Marines and sailors in both garrison and combat theaters, and how to identify and treat such wounds.

Topics included the three types of heat injuries, hemorrhages, dressings and bandages, tourniquets, casualty evacuation procedures and different blood-clotting agents.

Once the lecture portion of the class had concluded, instructors jumped into the practical application by showing the students how blood clotting agents work and having them practice applying bandages and tourniquets. 

In addition to bandage and tourniquet application, students in the class got a chance to familiarize themselves with their individual first aid kits. Instructors displayed and explained the functions of the IFAK contents, and encouraged those present to accustom themselves with the life-saving gear during their own free time.

“I found the first aid kit part the most interesting,” said Lance Cpl. Stephanie Scott, 19, a wireman with Communications Company, HQ Bn.,  who is from Boston. “I have never opened (the IFAK) before, so to know what was in there and how to use it was especially helpful.”

While both lecture and practical application increased the basic life-saving knowledge of all the warriors present, the hands-on remediation seemed to give the Marines present more confidence in themselves and their brothers-in-arms.

“Actually being able to apply (the tourniquet) to a real person made me more confident I could do it when it really counts,” said Lance Cpl. Fabian Salazar, 19, a radio technician with Comm. Co., who is from San Antonio. “Also it’s nice to know my fellow Marines have my back should I ever need help.”  

To end the training session, the students practiced the many ways to transport a wounded service member to a casualty evacuation point by going over such carries as the saddleback carry, the four-handed seat carry and the fireman’s carry.

The students said they felt it was a good way to ensure that the Marines of HQ Bn. are prepared to carry their fellow Marines, both literally and metaphorically, in their time of need and by doing so ensuring mission accomplishment.