Medical Airmen perform tactically

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Tony Harp
  • 193rd Special Operations Wing

Two Airmen drag a simulated casualty across the ground to the safety of cover, one of them returning fire with his M4 carbine. The casualty has at least two visible wounds, but their main concern is falling back to a location where they can safely begin to treat their patient. 

Once the Airmen reach cover and the threat is deemed neutralized by the NCO in charge of training, they quickly begin to evaluate and treat the patient. As this is going on, other members of their team are searching for casualties, treating their wounds and preparing for evacuation. The remaining Airmen are providing 360-degree security as the former work. 

This is the field training portion of the Tactical Combat Casualty Care course, which challenges the medical Airmen to provide emergency, battlefield trauma care. The training allows for Airmen to put in place their medical training while operating tactically and responding to enemy threats. 

“I think in our very nature we just want to help people, and it’s kind of hard to do that when people are shooting at you or throwing grenades,” said Airman 1st Class Josue Gerena, a medic with the 193rd Special Operations Medical Group Detachment 1.

Approximately 33 Airmen from the 193rd SOMDG Det 1 conducted the two-day TCCC course May 20-21 at Fort Indiantown Gap.

“It’s a two-day course designed to get any Airman or any member of the Department of Defense ready to provide medical care in a tactical situation and get those patients back to better, higher-echelon care,” said 1st Lt. Brendan Dougherty, an emergency trauma nurse with the 193rd SOMDG Det 1.

Airmen spent the first day of training conducting classroom lectures and instructions, while the second day there were practical exercises and scenarios in a simulated, tactical environment. 

“The basic principles of TCCC start with three phases,” said Dougherty. “There is care under fire, when you directly make contact with the enemy. There’s tactical field care, where you are providing that medical care in the field. And there is the tactical evacuation care, which is getting that person out and providing care en route with them.”

The 193rd SOMDG Det 1 Airmen are assigned to the 3rd Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Task Force, out of Fort Indiantown Gap, and provide medical support during disaster relief efforts. 

“With the CBRN Task Force, this training allows us to have a lot of those extra skills for our Airmen to be able to be in a setting where they have very limited resources,” said Dougherty. “It’s very realistic if we were to go on a real-world event and we would not have those resources available to us when we arrived. So for those Airmen to be able to critically think and treat the patients with the gear they have, it’s pretty substantial training for us.”

“The final scenarios that we do are made to be a full patient care scenario in the tactical environment,” said Dougherty. “With the help of the 148th Air Support Operations Squadron, we set a patient scenario in which there were downed Soldiers that our Airmen were going to rescue. They were inserted on the tactical vehicles, patrolled to find the patients, did take some fire that they adequately managed, they gave the patients the help they needed, and then called for evacuation and provided that care in the tactical vehicles.”

“This training is really crucial for everyone in the Department of Defense, because you never know when you are in that situation where you might need to save someone’s life,” said Dougherty. “Learning these skills is what’s going to make the difference between potentially your friend, or another Soldier, Airmen, Marine or Sailor living or dying.”

Gerena is a police officer in his civilian job. He believes this training will help him on both sides of his career, and he enjoyed the hands-on portion of the training the most. 

“I was really happy with all the hands-on training because it kind of drives it all home,” said Gerena. “You can only sit through theory and lecture so much with it sticking, but that hands-on and going out there and seeing how things can turn from bad to worse, keeping your cool and just going on the fly, is much appreciated.”