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Petty Officer 2nd Class Kristofer Baskett, an instructor with Field Medical Training Battalion West, instructs a group of corpsmen during a final training exercise at Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 21.

Photo by Cpl. Joshua Young

FMTB-West immerses into hyper realistic training

21 Jun 2012 | Cpl. Joshua Young

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Field Medical Training Battalion West revamped their final training exercise using advanced realistic training.

The battalion trains the next generation of field medical service technicians. Upon graduation, the corpsmen are attached to a Marine unit and could deploy into combat areas.

The final exercise was revamped to provide corpsmen an advanced realistic training environment. The training involves role-players and simulated explosions, such as improvised explosive devices and rocket propelled grenades. This is the first time immersion style role-players have been used during the final training exercise.

“We’re just trying to get these students trained the best they possibly can be before they go to combat,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Kristopher Baskett, an FMTB-West instructor. “The more realistic we can make it for them, the more enveloped in that world they’re going to become and the better they’re going to perform when they get to an actual combat scenario.”

The training package is designed to test a corpsman’s ability to act under extreme pressure in an ultra-realistic training environment.
The training prior to the upgrade involved mannequins used by corpsmen to apply first aid and conduct casualty evacuation procedures during training evolutions conducted in mock urban villages.

“Nothing can really replace a living, breathing, bleeding patient,” said Baskett, 26, from Mexico, Mo. “This is going to give them an eye-opening experience.”

The new training involves simulated rocket propelled grenade explosions during patrols and subsequently realistic-looking, often grotesque injuries.

“This should be the first time they see it, not in combat on the battlefield,” Baskett said. “It can put a lot of stress on a young 18 or 19-year-old in combat seeing their buddies hurt, wondering if they are going to make it and what they could have done right if they take a casualty.”

Immersion training isn’t a new concept. It’s been used in the Marine Corps to train deploying Marines for several years. This is the first time it has been used at a field medical training battalion and it will continue to be implemented throughout the year. The commanding officer of FMTB-West hopes the training will be successful enough to continue it indefinitely and spread to FMTB-East.

“Every corpsmen who is in the fleet has to come through this course,” said Navy Capt. Michael Eby, the commanding officer of FMTB-West. “We’re leveraging off the immersion and we’re going to continue to do it into the next fiscal year.”

The focus of the hyper-realistic training is chaos and realism. The chaos prepares the corpsmen for the fog of war and the realism gives the corpsmen a sense of what’s to come so they are mentally prepared.

“What we’re hoping is the first time they see a casualty in combat they aren’t freaked out,” said Sgt. Gabriel Soto II, an FMTB-West instructor. “It is as close to real life as possible.”

Hyper-realistic training was created by Strategic Operations Inc. It has been implemented in the Marine Corps and is used to prepare deploying Marines for what they can expect in a combat environment.

STOPS created the realistic training to allow Marines and sailors to combat fog of war and become completely immersed in the scenario. It gives service members an opportunity to experience chaos before dealing with actual injuries under fire.