CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- Navy corpsmen and Marines with 3rd Medical Battalion participated in a medical evacuation drill Sept. 27-30 at the Kin Blue Training Area, Camp Hansen.
The mission of the battalion is to provide direct and general medical support to III Marine Expeditionary Force to maintain the unit’s combat readiness and effectiveness.
The training prepared the service members for possible medical emergencies and familiarized them with equipment used in a field environment.
The exercise started with simulated small casualty drills and progressed into mass casualty drills. The shock trauma platoons trained to treat a maximum of seven patients at one time, and transition to new patients as they stabilized others.
“Today we set up a surgical platoon as well as a command headquarters,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Michele Hancock, the commanding officer of 3rd Med. Bn., 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III MEF. “In the past we usually set up just a shock trauma platoon. This time we combined them and added a holding ward, an ancillary services lab and x-ray.”
The drills taught Marines and corpsmen to work together to effectively and efficiently accomplish the mission.
“Everyone has a role when there is a mass causality event, or any casualty event,” said Hancock, from Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. “It can be kind of chaotic with so much activity. The drill tests their understanding of procedures and working with everyone as a team. People learn and respond because they start to expect what’s next.”
During the training, the corpsmen experienced what it is like to treat wounded service members in a chaotic environment.
“The casualty actors did a fantastic job,” said Hancock. “They were crying out in pain and asking where their buddies were. It adds a lot of realism to the scenario because it causes the personnel to reassure the patient while they’re still assessing them and providing medical treatment.”
Along with enhancing their ability to work as a team, the battalion focused on efficiency and speed when dealing with the patients.
“Time is very important, it can mean life or death for our patients,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class David Ellison, a hospital corpsman with the battalion, from Carlisle, Pennsylvania. “The few seconds we have to control bleeding could be that life-saving intervention.”
The training exercise was to ensure the corpsmen react with confidence and without hesitation, whether there is chaos, gun fire, or wounded service members screaming, according to Petty Officer 1st Class Zachary Silveus, a corpsman with the battalion, from Findlay, Ohio.
“They exceeded my expectations,” said Hancock. “They worked hard and got everything done. The training scenarios were very well developed, and they put a tremendous amount of effort for the realism. They played the scenarios out right until the end, and it was excellent.”