It might be the difference between life and death.
More than 400 Soldiers from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command are scheduled to be certified or re-certified Combat Life Savers between March 16 and June 5.
The program is being taught by a mobile training team from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard’s Medical Battalion Training Site.
It’s not common to have Guard Soldiers teach active-duty Soldiers overseas, especially something as critical as CLS skills.
But, Maj. Gen. Yves Fontaine, 21st TSC commanding general, wanted to ensure all Soldiers are CLS certified, said Lt. Col. Martin Davis, assistant chief of staff for National Guard and Reserve Affairs at the 21st TSC.
Lieutenant Colonel Davis contacted the Office of the Surgeon of the National Guard Bureau to request assistance. Four teams of three medical instructors will each teach three courses in Kaiserslautern, Bamberg, Stuttgart, Baumholder and Grafenwöhr Mondays through Thursdays. On Fridays they will recertify Soldiers who have already taken the CLS training.
During the recertification process, the Soldiers must demonstrate proficiency in the life-savings skills they have previously gained.
Having the medical training teams on location makes it possible to bring highly-qualified medical instructors right to the Soldiers.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to assist in training war-fighting units, especially because the students here are very attentive and appreciate the vital importance of this course,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ronald James, a senior medical instructor with the PAARNG and the non-commissioned officer in charge of the CLS training course.
In an environment where minutes and seconds count, the expertise gleaned during the 40-hour class is critical. Especially since the curriculum was changed to include aid for the three most preventable cases of battlefield deaths, he said.
“We now teach how to stop bleeding from extremity wounds, how to open an airway and needle/chest decompression for chest injury and tension pneumothorax management,” Sergeant First Class James said. “We also teach basic casualty evaluation, how to stabilize fractures and medical evacuation procedures.”
The classes are a combination of classroom teaching and hands-on instruction.
“I wanted to attend a (CLS) course for a while now because I know how important it is,” said Spc. Heather Thomas, a 21st TSC postal clerk. “The training really helps. Things are not that hard once you get to practice – that’s what makes the difference.”
Staff Sgt. Justin Reed, motor transport operator with the 21st TSC’s 515th Transportation Company, said he agrees.
“The practice makes me more confident. Now I know I at least have a chance of making a difference, whether that is giving aid to someone injured in an accident on the Autobahn or during fighting downrange,” he said.
Sergeant First Class James said they have received phenomenal support from the 21st TSC staff, and the students are refreshingly