Division Docs practice Trauma Life Support

7 Dec 2000 | Cpl. Zachary A. Crawford and HM3 Ben M. Stewart

The rear of the Light Armored Vehicle was still on fire due to a recent hit from an artillery shell when the group of corpsmen arrived. They quickly opened one of the top hatches to check on the driver's condition. All of his comrades got out safely, he was the only one left inside and they needed to get him out.

'Keep his neck straight," said one Sailor to the other, concerned about possible spinal injuries.

Carefully and quickly, they extracted the driver successfully and took him to the medical aid station.

It is essential training called Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS) and corpsmen from 2d Marine Division practiced PHTLS outside of the II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Building here recently.

"It is one of the many medical courses offered at second Marine Division for hospital corpsmen," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Ben M. Stewart, hospital corpsman, Division Surgeon's Office operations clerk and PHTLS/ Emergency Medical Technician coordinator. "This class gives corpsmen a better understanding of emergency medicine involving motor vehicle collisions, with an emphasis on increasing their skills on primary and secondary assessments, or surveys, of the patient. The class is governed by the national Association of Emergency Medical Technicians and provided for the military through the Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas."

According to Stewart, normal classes do not teach the same things as in this course.

"PHTLS introduces new and beneficial techniques to Corpsmen that are not taught in any other military course," explained Stewart. "The unique training, specifically for motor vehicle collisions, challenges corpsmen to expand their knowledge on how and why people are injured in certain situations. The course teaches students to determine how (serious the injury is), and which techniques need to be performed on patients who are involved in accidents. It does this by giving extensive instruction on how to properly extract patients from vehicles in a timely manner, while taking special precautions for spinal injuries."

According to Stewart, when implementing more thorough primary and secondary surveys, Corpsmen learn how to evaluate patients when they are uncertain what the cause of injury is. The primary survey emphasizes how medical personnel find and treat life-threatening injuries before concerning themselves with less important injuries.

The secondary survey is performed after the patient's airway, breathing and circulation are restored. They then assess the patient for any other injuries that might cause further complications.

"The staff of the training section of the Division Surgeon's Office is very proud of the training program it has established, which includes PHTLS, Emergency Medical Training, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, Advanced Cardiac Life Support, suture, and intravenous therapy training," said Stewart. "Second Marine Division is leading the Corps in having the highest level of training available to prepare corpsmen for garrison and combat lifesaving.