CAMP KINSER, OKINAWA, Japan -- Tearing over open ground Feb. 16 toward a crippled truck surrounded by wounded, frantic Marines, Cpl. Phillip Carter got a sense of the vast difference between learning about combat casualty care and actually applying it.
Carter, a supply administration and operations clerk with Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 3rd Marine Logistics Company, was among more than 50 other Marines, all sprinting toward the climactic finale of their week-long Combat Lifesaver Course on Camp Kinser.
The course was part of a series of training evolutions for CLB-4 personnel preparing for an upcoming deployment.
Marines in the course learned how to assess the condition of wounded service members as well as how to determine heart rate and blood pressure, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jeremy Dunlap, the Tactics Readiness and Training section's corpsman instructor. Training also covered identifying and treating bleeding wounds, bone fractures, burns, and other complications from battlefield wounds.
The final stage of training put the Marines into one of the most common scenarios on today's battlefields: an explosion from an improvised explosive device followed by an ambush. For Carter, the experience was an eye-opener.
"There's a big difference between sitting in a classroom learning the correct procedure for applying an IV or a tourniquet and actually using those techniques on a person who's thrashing around and screaming in pain," Carter said. "There's so much more you have to think about."
The victims - Marines covered in realistic-looking simulated wounds - lay strewn about the area surrounding the truck. It was up to the CLB-4 Marines to identify and treat the wounded while dealing with sporadic small arms and mortar fire. If there was a hole in security, some of the CLB-4 Marines became casualties.
"The goal is to make the training as realistic as possible," Dunlap said. "That way the Marines get a better insight into how they will react in a real-life situation. Are they going to freeze up, or take care of their fellow Marines?"
The upcoming deployment will be Gunnery Sgt. Steven Tolliver's second to the Central Command area of responsibility. The CLB-4 maintenance company gunnery sergeant said the Combat Lifesaver Course training is invaluable. Following the course, the Marines will have a better chance to react correctly should a similar scenario ever play out in the future. The lessons are better learned in a training environment when no lives are at stake.
"When it comes to saving lives, it doesn't matter what rank or (military occupational specialty) you are," Tolliver said. "It all comes down to the experience and training you have.