All soldiers need to know how to apply a tourniquet

Soldiers from the 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade learn to 'tourni-quet up' and other combat live-saving techniques


By Sgt. Ruth McClary, EMS1 Contributor

FORT FISHER, N.C. — Soldiers of the 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade polished their medical skills during annual training June 13-17. 

Whether their military skills are clerical, tactical, mechanical or all soldiers need to know how to tourniquet on the battlefield. The combat lifesavers course is taught to soldiers in every military occupation skills set. The 40-hour class teaches basic life-saving techniques for soldiers on and off the battlefield.

Soldiers learn combat casualty care and how to apply a tourniquet. (Photo by Army National Guard Sgt. Ruth McClary)
Soldiers learn combat casualty care and how to apply a tourniquet. (Photo by Army National Guard Sgt. Ruth McClary)

“This course is designed to utilize Soldiers by providing medical assistance to casualties on the battlefield until a medic can get there,” Sgt. Nelson Loretto, 130th MEB medical noncommissioned officer said. “They are the first responders. They are not medical personnel but they have the training to address and stabilize life threatening injuries.” 

Soldiers pushed their limits during the training course to see if they could actually endure the pain of a tourniquet. Others allowed trainers to push tubes in their nasal cavity to demonstrate how to open an unconscious person’s airway.

Limp bodies lay on the floor like mannequins as each soldier took turns preparing an unconscious victim for recovery and rescue. Although it was a classroom setting, the soldiers mimic real-world actions. 

At the end of the course each soldier received a combat lifesaver bag packed with essential medical supplies and the credentials to assist anyone in need of medical help during regular training and on the battlefield. 

To test their skills and abilities to pass the course, music blared loudly in the background as soldiers were participated in a battlefield scenario stimulation, rescuing a severely hemorrhaging soldier while under fire. 

“The medics are doing an outstanding job teaching this class; it’s part of [their military occupation] to teach, evaluate, and certify the CLS class,” said Loretto. “As they teach, it is a refresher for them.”

In this intense environment, the trainees have to drown out the loud music and frantic screams to actually figure out what the patient needs and then follow through with the proper steps to treat the wounds.

They each flow through certain aspects of the training without missing a beat, but each one froze at some point, for just a second to think about what they needed to do. Yet, they all prevailed in the end!

“If you don’t get anything else out of this training remember your HABC’s,” Loretto said. “If you lose your train of thought due to the chaos around you, always resort back to the basic...those four letters.” 

Brig. Gen. Kenneth Beard, North Carolina’s assistant adjutant general-sustainment, watched as one soldier ran through the final testing of the course. He was pleased with the intensity of the training but suggested increasing the intensity.

“I know we as leaders try to hold back a lot, we don’t want to put a lot of pressure on them but from my perspective we need to figure out how quickly we can put more pressure on them,” Beard said. 

“This is the place where we want to find the failure point and fix it,” Beard continued. “When they get to that point where they seem to be overwhelmed, that’s when we need the training to kick in.”

All of the soldiers recieved a certificate of achievement and a CLS bag that includes tourniquets; giving the soldiers the power to "tourn-iquet-up."

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