AL-ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq --
A Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle is an armored vehicle designed to transport service members safely through combat zones as they accomplish their missions.
Now, the corpsmen of Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5 have an MRAP Ambulance tailored to the needs of medical professionals. The corpsmen completed a period of proficiency training with the vehicle’s medical assets at Combat Outpost Rawah, Iraq, August 8.
“This is the ninth ambulance that has been built,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Buf Kloppenborg, 38, the assistant leading corpsman in Rawah with the battalion. “The entire interior was designed by corpsmen and Army medics who have combat experience.”
The manufacturers of the MRAP redesigned the standard equipment layout and installed vital sign machines, hydraulic litter skids, suction machines and medical supply kits. The standard steps used to climb into the rear of the vehicle fold out to a ramp about 3 meters long for easy access while carrying litter casualties.
“The vehicle can support three litter casualties or two litter casualties and four ambulatory patients,” said Seaman Andrew Garrison, 21, a corpsman with the Warlords of 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines, from Grand Rapids, Mich.
With two litter casualties or less, one hydraulic litter skid can fold into a bench which seats up to four patients. One corpsman in the back of this vehicle could be stabilizing up to six casualties at one time.
“In order to successfully operate this (ambulance), you have to be able to multitask,” Kloppenborg said, a Persian Gulf War veteran and a native of Cozad, Neb.
“Have you ever watched a symphony?” he asked his corpsmen during the training. “That’s what it’s like back here, except you’re playing 90 percent of the instruments.”
If a platoon sustained casualties, a corpsman could execute trauma prevention and stabilization techniques. Although a corpsman would not require the steady hand of a surgeon to carry out these procedures, driving over the rough terrain of Iraq is not conducive to a patient’s stabilization. The MRAP Ambulance is equipped with a reinforced suspension to ease the journey for the occupants.
“You don’t feel any bumps when you’re driving down the road,” Garrison said. “With such a smooth suspension, you’re not jarring around like regular MRAPs. It’s better for the patients and the attendants when you’re giving lifesaving care.”
Since the corpsmen received the MRAP, there has only been one incident when they had to use it for casualty transport. The corpsmen train with their new vehicle frequently, but hope to never have to apply that training.
“We’re lucky not to have used it a lot,” Kloppenborg said. “If all of these supplies stay in their bags and it never gets used, I won’t complain. It means that we haven’t had any casualties.”