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Lance Cpl. Patrick Bass, a small-arms repair technician with Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5, dresses a simulated wound on the arm of another Marine during the Combat Lifesaver Course at Camp Al Qaâ??im, Iraq, July 8. The corpsmen with the battalion will teach as many Combat Lifesaver Courses as possible during their deployment. They will also teach the Tactical Combat Casualty Care Course to sergeants and higher ranking individuals who are already combat lifesaver certified.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Joshua Murray

Corpsmen preserve life through the hands of others

8 Jul 2008 | Lance Cpl. Joshua Murray

Every time Marines leave Camp Al Qa’im for a mission or patrol, at least one Navy corpsman will accompany them during their expedition. A corpsman is only one person though, and in the event that a platoon sustains multiple casualties, the corpsman needs help from the Marines around him.

The corpsmen with Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5 began the Combat Lifesaver Course here July 7 to train and refresh Marines on providing medical attention during those first few vital seconds a Marine sustains a serious injury.

“The Combat Lifesaver Course enhances the buddy-aid theme, said Petty Officer 1st Class Mario E. Betancourt, 35, independent duty corpsman with TF 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines. “They will learn things like maintaining an open airway and treating life-threatening blood loss.”

The course teaches Marines how to prevent symptoms from complicating

and addresses other medical issues that could arise from a life threatening injury.

“The Marines are trained up enough to apply trauma prevention techniques, including splinting broken limbs, using different tourniquets and applying water gels to treat burns,” said Betancourt, who is from Miami.

Betancourt then recalled an overwhelming situation in which the Marines with the battalion played an important role by providing medical aid to other Marines.

“Two and a half weeks after I got to (the battalion), we had heat casualties resulting from a hike,” he said. “We were treating Marines in the (Battalion Aid Station) and in the front of the battalion. Marines helped by acting as litter bearers and cooled down the casualties.”

“It’s a great class for anyone to take,” said Cpl. Damon Hitch, 30, a small-arms repair technician with the battalion from Flemingsburg, Ky. “I’ve learned basic CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) procedures, how to clear an airway and how to insert nasal tubes if I can’t clear the airway. I want to try to get my Marines over here to do it too.”

Betancourt uses a simple philosophy while teaching the class: he teaches Marines as he would have them treat him.

“When these classes are over, I want to be able to trust these Marines to treat me,” Betancourt said. “Corpsmen will always be there to support Marines, but if something happened to them, I want Marines to be able to provide medical intervention until more care becomes available.”