Navy-Marine Corps team takes on CLS aboard USS America

22 Aug 2014 | Cpl. Donald Holbert

The pressure was on as Marines and Sailors with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force South and the future amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) came together to complete the ship’s first integrated combat lifesaver course, Aug. 21.

The course consisted of three days of classroom instruction where Marines and Sailors learned basic medical aid and concluded with a culminating practical application exam in the vehicle stowage area of the ship.

CLS, taught by Navy corpsmen with SPMAGTF-South, was designed for deploying Marines and Sailors. It featured basic medical aid for injuries most commonly seen in combat environments.

“The purpose of CLS is to teach the basic lifesaving techniques,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Brad Olton, a Navy hospital corpsman with SPMAGTF-South, and a native of Kingston, Jamaica. “It’s to ensure the first Marine or Sailor that comes upon a patient or casualty has the basic knowledge to save that life.”

The Marines and Sailors utilized the knowledge learned in the classroom for a final practical application exam. The exam was executed in teams of four to five students. It began with a physical training session to simulate the physical and mental fatigue experienced in combat.

“Unless you actually experience combat firsthand, you’ll never know,” said Olton. “But we can at least try to make the experience as close as possible so that when they do go there they don’t have that panic or fear.”

The students were exposed to a variety of scenarios they were required to accurately address following the PT session.

“During the practical application we had multiple patients with various injuries,” said Olton. “From massive bleeding, to gunshot wounds, to facial lacerations and we wanted to see how they would perform and treat those patients.”

CLS served not only as a preparation for combat, it provided skills that can be applied in a variety of environments.

“For general quarters, I am part of the aft battle dress station,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Alicia Maldonado, an aircrew survival equipmentman with America, and a native of Miami. “We go out and look for the wounded if anything is to happen to the ship. I absolutely will be better prepared. This class gave us more tools that we can use.”

The integrated CLS course was a clear example of the Navy-Marine Corps team in action.

“I think we do well as a blue and green team,” said Maldonado. “This was the perfect example. The green team pushed us harder to meet their standards and sometimes even go above. The Marines tried really hard to compete with us and show us what they go through.”

The Marines with SPMAGTF-South are scheduled to conduct a theater security cooperation event with the Peruvian military during an upcoming port visit. There they will execute a bi-lateral medical exchange, where they will demonstrate their newly acquired certifications.

The Marines with SPMAGTF-South are embarked aboard America in support of her maiden transit, "America Visits the Americas". A SPMAGTF is a balanced air, ground and logistics force that can be tailored to accomplish missions across a wide range of crises. Through partner-nation activities, key leader engagements and security cooperation activities, the Marines and Sailors of SPMAGTF-South will demonstrate the flexibility, utility and unparalleled expeditionary capability the Navy-Marine Corps team provides our nation and partners.