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Beyond the clinic | 3rd Dental Battalion participate in 3-mile hike, triage training

By Lance Cpl. Armando Elizalde | III Marine Expeditionary Force | December 4, 2018

In the rainy morning before the sun rises, Sailors take on a 3-mile hike, as their boots splash through the wet roads of Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan.

Sailors with 3rd Dental Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, participated in a 3-mile conditioning hike and triage training Nov. 16, 2018. The day started with a hike to simulate hiking with deployed Marines and traveling to a Role II facility, as well as conducting Tactical Combat Casualty Care upon arrival.

Triage, by definition, is the assignment of degrees of urgency for wounded or ill patients and determining the order of treatment of a large number of patients or casualties. The training was intended to ensure the Sailors are proficient and understand their role as triage personnel.

U.S. Navy Capt. David W. Jones, the commanding officer of 3rd Dental Battalion, said the overall goal was to understand the basics of TCCC beyond the skills found in a dental clinic.

“Our goal today is to learn TCCC and make sure that we can do our role as triage officers in the field,” said Jones. “If we go to war, we aren’t going to be doing root canals, cleanings or dental exams, we are going to be triage officers. I want to make sure that my green-side Sailors are prepared to get the job done.”

Despite being dental corpsmen, the Sailors are corpsmen first, said Jones. In a time of war, the dental corpsmen will provide basic first aid and triage support with their fellow medics.

The Sailors were split up by their respective clinics from each base on Okinawa, to compete for the fastest time to complete the triage scenario provided by TCCC instructors from 3rd Medical Battalion.

U.S. Navy Lt. Liam F. Delahanty, a medical officer with 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd MLG, said the course was designed to prepare and test the Sailors with standard triage procedures.

“We are going to be doing trauma triage scenarios and trauma assessments,” said Delahanty. “This is preparing the Sailors to become triage officers and members of triage teams. In a real life scenario, when 3rd Medical Battalion deploys, we often have dental come in along with us to act as our triage officers.”

The exercise scenarios included various types of wounds and injuries such as abrasions, punctures, avulsions, incisions, lacerations, amputations and head wounds.

“The types of scenarios in this exercise were chosen to represent what would potentially be seen in conflict,” said Delahanty. “The events were timed to ensure a sense of urgency and a healthy form of competition.”

Master Chief Leonardo E. Carbonel, the command master chief of 3rd Dental Battalion, said this training is very beneficial not only to the new Sailors but also those who have been with the unit for a long time but have not treated anyone like this before.

“I think, overall, they are enjoying the training and it’s dusting off that knowledge base that they’ve learned,” said Carbonel. “I think it’s good to have this type of training to ensure that the Sailors are comfortable with doing the basics.”
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