CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C -- His heart is racing, his adrenaline is through the roof. The corpsman maneuvers under fire while trying to reach the casualty. As the bullets fly overhead, he reminds himself to remain calm amidst the chaos that surrounds him. The sounds alone are enough to haunt him, but he sees only one thing; a Marine calling out for him.
Sailors with 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group participated in a Tactical Combat Casualty Care Course, or TCCC, Feb. 23 -26, 2015, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
The course included classes that covered major hemorrhaging, airway control in field settings, assessment of a patient, how to treat burn patients, head injuries and hypothermia.
“TCCC differs from civilian trauma care solely because it is based around combat,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Brennan Brown, a TCCC instructor with 2nd Med. Bn. “The purpose of this training is to teach people with minimal medical experience how to handle themselves while not endangering the mission, the casualty, or themselves. The idea is that someone is trying to kill you or someone is attempting to kill another Marine or sailor, and now you’re treating them so it goes over how you maintain your tactical capabilities without sacrificing someone else’s life.”
The course had students with different levels of rank and experience focusing on the importance of not only treating a casualty’s injuries, but also on how to conduct pain management, call in a 9-line casualty evacuation request, and safely extract the casualty from the danger zone while maintaining situational awareness in combat.
“The key take away that we like to provide to the students here is how to manage casualties in a tactical environment,” Brown said. “We hope we aren’t teaching anyone any new information, but [instead] the confidence to use what they’ve learned in any situation that is given to them here, and to take it beyond here and apply it effectively in real-life situations.”
After nearly 24 hours of class room time, the students finally prepared for their culminating event. It tested them on their ability to perform all of the skills they’ve been taught while being in a simulated combat scenario.
Brown emphasized that in a combat environment you’re going to be stressed out, but the instructors hope to teach the students to focus that stress and use it so they can function in a combat environment without losing situational awareness. That point is being taught with hands-on training during the culminating event.
“The point of the culminating event at the end of the course is to put the students in an extremely stressful situation and have them still apply the medicine,” Brown said. “It’s to give them the confidence they need to go out in a combat scenario and still be able to think, operate and ultimately save someone’s life.”
While the culminating event proves to be the most stressful part of TCCC for the students, they gain a better perspective on how they’re going to react if they are ever in a situation where they need to save a life.
“It will never prepare you fully, but it will give you a better idea of what it’s like,” said Seaman Kevin Cox, a field medical service technician with 2nd Med. Bn. “Of course you can’t simulate live-fire, but the stress and mental confusion is really what they try and focus on. You need to be able to wrap your head around all of the chaos and be able to think, so that’s what they push towards.”
At the end of the course both instructors and students, while different, agreed that there were many different positives taken away from the course that can be used in both garrison and in theatre, alike.
“You get a better understanding of what you’re doing,” Cox said. “The biggest thing I got out of it was the hands-on training, because I don’t get to do that very often. You can sit in class all day long, and that’s helpful, but until you actually get your hands dirty it doesn’t mean much.”
“I hope they take away confidence from the course,” Brown said. “Because all of these interventions, no matter what name or price tag you put on them, are really not that complicated and anyone can be trained to do them. It’s the confidence that’s important. With that confidence you can save 92 percent of the casualties you come in contact with, and that’s our statistic right now.”