Photo Information

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Brad Kuflak, medical technician, from Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev., assist students in a litter hoisting during their final exercise in the summer Mountain Medicine Course at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center July 25.

Photo by Cpl. Regina Ortiz

Mountain Medicine Course prepares docs to go the distance

25 Jul 2007 | Cpl. Regina Ortiz

Known as ‘docs,’ corpsmen have been side-by-side Marines in every clime and place to aid the wounded and share their medical knowledge.

At the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, corpsmen, along with U.S. Army medics and other medical personnel, expand their medical knowledge in the two-week Mountain Medicine Course.

Through the course, students take on the terrain and learn the effects of a mountainous, high-altitude environment, primarily focusing on how to treat illnesses and injuries common in this terrain.

The course is offered in summer and winter with the different weather factors being the biggest challenge for students.

“The physical aspect is the most challenging part of the summer course,” said Petty Officer 1st Class James Olgesby, petty officer-in-charge of medical training. “The hiking, running, and moving casualties at high altitude through the mountains prove to be the hardest part of the course.”

“During the winter course, the mental aspect of dealing with the cold, wet and snow environment can be overwhelming,” he continued. “There’s a lot that comes with the living conditions, staying dry and taking care of a casualty in the snow.”

Both versions of the course start with basic field and mobility skills. The winter course includes ski, snowshoe, and sled movements, whereas the summer course covers hiking, rappelling and stream crossing.

During this portion of the course, students are given classes between movements on illnesses, injuries and methods of evacuating a casualty in mountainous terrain, including steep earth rescue and casualty evacuation saddle on a mule.

“The most important class we give is the combat casualty class,” said Olgesby. “It’s important for anyone to know, even if you’re not in the medical field. We teach the three phases of care: care under fire, tactical field care and combat casualty evacuation.”

The second and final part of the course ties everything together in the final exercise.

Students are inserted into the depths of the mountainous training area where they must set up a first aid station. They must navigate to different locations where they must recover and evacuate up to six casualties using methods they have learned in the course.

“It’s a real challenging high-paced course,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Stacey Bluma, corpsman, 4th Reconn- aissance Battalion, San Antonio, Texas. “It’s what made it what it is today, more real world.

“I took away the most from the final exercise,” she continued. “Those are the kinds of things we are doing out there and it’s valuable training.”

Bluma is a reservist who took the summer course as her two week active duty service she is required to perform every year.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Barrent Dickinson, 3rd Medical Battalion, Okinawa, Japan, took part in the winter and summer courses.

“Each course was equally rewarding and challenging,” he explained. “The summer course was a lot more physical, but dealing with the snow was difficult

“Both final exercises were enjoyably difficult,” he added. “The instructors here are the greatest I’ve ever had, they know their jobs, push us hard, and make sure we learn a lot in the two weeks we’re here.”

The next summer course is scheduled for Aug. 12. Class seats are still available. For questions or to register, call 760-932-1460, or log on to

Headquarters Marine Corps