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Third Medical Battalion Marines, corpsmen enhance capabilities

By Cpl. Anthony Ward, Jr. | | September 13, 2011

A Marine lies injured on the battlefield, but no corpsman or medic is in sight. Thanks to a training exercise, the Marines of 3rd Medical Battalion have the emergency first aid skills to provide assistance.

The Marines and sailors of 3rd Med. Bn., 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, honed their humanitarian assistance skills during a training exercise on Camp Hansen Sept. 9-14.

One of the missions for 3rd Med Bn. is to provide rapidly deployable Marines and sailors to support III MEF operations throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

During the exercise, 3rd Med Bn. staff honed the skills needed to rapidly deploy in support of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and combat operations, said Lt. Cmdr. Angela M. Dougherty, officer in charge of training for the battalion.

“This gives them their basic skills for excellence,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Anna E. Ribot, hospital corpsman with 3rd Med. Bn. “It is vital. Our mission is to deploy with our Marines to Afghanistan or even the [Marine Expeditionary Unit]. They’re going to need these skills everywhere.”

A unique aspect of this exercise was the opportunity for the battalion’s corpsmen and Marines to cross train – corpsmen learned Marine Corps skills, and Marines learn corpsman skills, said Dougherty.

“Marines were teaching corpsmen ‘Vehicle 101,’ generators, showers, various weaponry and [Marine Corps Martial Arts Program],” said Dougherty.

“Marines learned primary and secondary survey [of a casualty], how to take blood pressure, various lifesaving skills and caring for patients in a helo,” added Dougherty. “We are really seeing ourselves as one team.”

The one-team aspect can be seen through the training of the Marines and sailors of 3rd Med. Bn.

“I have learned a lot of things,” said Sgt. Joshua E. Dargis, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist with 3rd Med. Bn.

If no other medical help was available, Dargis was confident he would be able to administer emergency medical aid for even such serious injuries as chest wounds thanks to the training conducted during the exercise.

The sailors also learned some skills integral to the Marine Corps.

“The sailors have learned a lot about disassembly and reassembly of weapons, litter stands, security in [military operations in urban terrain] situations and vehicles,” said Dargis.

The training exchange included helicopter operations, in which Marines and sailors honed their skills on in-flight patient care.

Sharing skill sets strengthened the camaraderie of the unit and improved morale, said Dougherty.

“Sky high,” said Dougherty of the morale during the exercise. “The corpsmen and Marines have been hungry for knowledge and excited to be a part of 3rd Med’s unique mission.”

Upon completion of the exercise, Marines and sailors who completed the training evolution were certified in combat lifesaving, tactical combat-casualty care, basic life support or corpsman basic skills.

The success of this exercise has led to plans to conduct a larger exercise of the same nature later this year.

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