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In the danger zone; Airmen provide emergency care to wounded personnel

By A1C Sarah Dowe 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs


Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. – Dragging a bloodied body away from the sound of firing bullets, the Airmen struggle to provide life-saving care. Working quickly, they prepare to evacuate the danger zone, when one of them gets hit, their vest covered in yellow paint. This isn’t a real-life combat zone. This is the Tactical Combat Care Course.

A new program being implemented across the entire U.S. military, TCCC teaches advanced life-saving skills through hands-on training in realistic environments.

At Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, medics are learning the skills necessary to perform emergency first aid both at home and overseas.

“TCCC training saves lives on and off the battlefield,” said U.S Air Force 1st Lieutenant Omar Vargas, 633rd Medical Group education and training course advisor. “An example of this is the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013; many lives were saved because of so many military and prior military members who knew how to provide emergency first aid.”

Air Force medics are nationally registered Emergency Medical Technicians, which means they play a huge role in responding to emergencies with ambulances and the resources available to them.

During the course medics must complete the mission with the limited supplies they would have in a hostile environment.

“This course changes their mindset to where they are the only medic and the only resources available to them are what they have on their person or spread throughout their unit,” said Staff Sgt. Mitchell Turley, 633rd MDG education and training course coordinator and program director. “This gets them thinking more along the lines of frontline battlefield tactics, maneuverability, accessibility, austere environments and extreme weather.”

Many weeks of planning go into making each training as beneficial for the students as possible.

“We are always adding to the training, making it more realistic and adding elements to it,” Vargas said. “Our goal is to make it as realistic as possible so our medics are fully trained and fully capable to have our Airmen and military members backs when they need it.”

Between lectures, classroom time and performing hands-on emergency procedures, the training takes three days to complete.

The training covers an algorithm called MARCH, which stands for: massive hemorrhage, airways, respirations, circulation, head trauma and hyperthermia. Students are taught how to apply a tourniquet, tourniquet control, surgical airways, needle decompressions and how to treat traumatic injuries.

Practicing each aspect of MARCH, students ensure they have the confidence and skills necessary to be able to treat patients and provide life-saving care.

The skills portion of the training involves three different phases:

Care under fire: students move the mannequins from the point of injury to a safe location where they can be treated.

Tactical field care: students provide emergency first aid, following MARCH, to the mannequins, which respond to the treatment they are receiving.

Evacuation: students place the simulated patients, on stretchers and carry them to where they would be evacuated by helicopter.

Once students have been evaluated and have passed these skill sets, they receive their three-year certification.

“As an Air Force, our focus is providing excellent medical care for the base and the clinic,” Turley said. “This training focuses on being able to provide emergency medical care in any environment.”

Personnel at JBLE are continuously working to bring up training standards so no matter which unit or military branch medics get assigned to they will be able to save lives, continue the mission and perform with excellence in all they do.

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