MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - -- For every squad of Marines on patrol, one Navy corpsman is attached to provide medical assistance. If 12 Marines exit the wire, it's his job to ensure that they all come back. But what happens when the caregiver becomes the victim?
If your corpsman was seriously injured, incapacitated and in need of immediate medical attention, would you know what to do? For those Marines who’ve taken the Combat Lifesaver Course, the answer is yes.
The Combat Lifesaver Course teaches Marines basic medical skills needed in a combat situation.
“It’s more in depth than the first aid training Marines receive in boot camp,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Martin A. Shepherd, a CLS trainer with Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. “By knowing what to do when one of their fellow Marines is injured, it helps ease the load of the corpsman who arrives on scene.”
During the four-day course, students learn techniques like how to properly start an intravenous line, how to radio for a casualty evacuation and how to take someone’s blood pressure. Following each period of instruction, the class is given a written test to ensure they fully understand the newfound knowledge.
“During my next deployment, I’ll be well prepared to help keep my Marines alive during moments of trauma,” said Staff Sgt. Bryan W. Sailer, a tech controller with Communications Company, Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. “Compared to the last time I took the course, this time around was much more informative.”
Sailer originally took the course in October 2004 while deployed to Iraq with 1st Marine Regiment. However, it has recently been standardized across the Marine Corps.
“Each unit’s corpsmen were teaching a different version of the course,” said Shepherd. “By standardizing the content, a Marine can switch units and not have to worry about learning a whole new set of medical techniques.”
A prime example of why every Marine should take the CLS course comes from one of Shepherd’s very own students. The incident occurred during his deployment to Iraq in early 2005.
“A group of Marines were clearing out a field when there was a drive-by shooting by a group of Iraqis,” said Shepherd. “We got a call over the radio saying that one of the Marines was hemorrhaging from a bullet wound to the neck.”
When the corpsman arrived on scene, he found that the injured Marine had already bandaged his wound and had his legs elevated above his heart.
The Marine reportedly said, “See doc, I did exactly what you taught me to.”
“By staying calm and controlling the bleeding, the Marine saved the corpsman some time, which helped the corpsman to help him,” Shepherd said. “Hearing that story just confirmed, in my mind, how important this class really is.”
Though geared towards Marines who are getting ready to deploy overseas, the CLS course is open to everyone. For more information or how to sign up, contact your S-3 shop.