Photo Information

Navy corpsmen with the Ground Combat Element, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command put Airmen and Marines through a strenuous workout before leading them into their final evaluation during a Combat Life Saver course in Southwest Asia, Aug. 12, 2015. During the final test the students work in pairs and each pair is given a different scenario where they must assess, treat and pass along a patient to a follow-on medical provider. The SPMAGTF corpsmen provide a three-day CLS course teaching combat triage and emergency trauma care to improve the survivability of the Crisis Response Company and coalition partners.

Photo by Cpl. John Baker

Deployed U.S. Navy corpsmen teach Combat Life Saver course

14 Aug 2015 | Cpl. John Baker Marine Corps Forces Central Command

U.S. Navy corpsmen with the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command serve an important purpose by providing both preventative medical care and emergency response capabilities throughout the Central Command area of operations. These Sailors have a valuable skill set that can and has saved lives in combat scenarios of the past.

Fortunately, these corpsmen enjoy sharing their knowledge with Soldiers, Airmen and Marines. Twice a month, the corpsman with the Ground Combat Element, SPMAGTF, hold a Combat Life Savers course to reinforce their own expertise and to increase the number of medically trained personnel embedded throughout the unit.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Edruzzel Ducut, a corpsman with the GCE from San Diego, leads the SPMAGTF Combat Life Saver course.

“This course teaches self-aid and buddy-aid,” said Ducut. “These are the basic medical fundamentals in emergency medicine to perform lifesaving interventions.”

Ducut said that every platoon of Marines has a corpsman, but that’s just not enough. By teaching these classes, he is widely increasing everyone’s chances of survival in a violent emergency.

“The ability to save someone’s life is knowledge that should be shared,” said Ducut. “Your corpsman can’t be everywhere at once and if there are multiple casualties, the chances of everyone surviving depend on how well everyone can perform medically.”

Although the ground-based personnel with the SPMAGTF are not currently engaging with enemy fighters, the ever-present instability in the U.S. Central Command area of operations requires the Marines to be ever ready.

“It comes down to the basics of the Marine Corps, every Marine’s a rifleman, so they’re eventually going to be in a combat environment where this will be an important skill set to have,” said Ducut. “You don’t want the time to come and not be able to perform.”

U.S. Marine Cpl. Jordan Trujillo, an air delivery specialist with the Logistic Combat Element of the SPMAGTF from Fullerton, California, was one of the Marines who graduated the CLS class.

“My normal [occupation] is air delivery specialist,” said Trujillo. “I deal with everything and anything that goes with parachutes.”

Trujillo said that he had seen the benefits of having CLS-qualified Marines when he was at Jump Master School. He said that one of the jumpers broke his ankle, and he didn’t know what to do. Luckily there was a CLS-qualified Marine who was able to administrate first aid until the corpsman could get to them.

“It’s not a normal thing to jump out of a perfectly good air plane,” said Trujillo. “Injuries are bound to happen, so it’s always good to have someone that knows how to save a life.”

Ducut said confidence in administering aid is almost as important as the actual skills themselves. He said it is extremely important for his students to understand they need to stay calm and collected while treating a patient.

“We’re increasing each individual’s confidence in both self-aids and buddy-aid,” said Ducut. “It’s about going back to the fundamentals; there’s going to be chaos when you’re treating a patient. It’s not an easy thing to do.”

The dramatic scenarios Ducut sets up for his students make them face patients with life threatening injuries while adding the stress of screaming and strict timelines of when things need to be done for the patient to survive.

“If these scenarios they give us were real, it would be terrifying,” said Trujillo. “But that’s the whole point of practicing because you can’t freeze up if it actually happens.”

Even after the course is over, Ducut recommends that his students continue to practice what they have learned.

“Medicine is a perishable skill, so if you don’t continuously practice it you won’t be on top of your game,” said Ducut. “We try to promote this class every year and of course with the infantrymen we incorporate it even more often because they’re more likely to be in harm’s way.”

On top of the fact that his students could lose their knowledge of how to perform these lifesaving skills, Ducut also said it’s important to come back because there are new advancements in emergency medicine every year.

“War breeds innovation, so you see a lot of new gear especially with their tourniquets,” said Ducut. “We want everyone to be familiar with all the gear.”

Ducut loves teaching this class because he knows it makes a difference. Marines he taught went on to apply the skills they learned in real life.

Ducut said a few of his old Marine students witnessed a car accident in North Carolina. The Marines, with the knowledge they had learned from the Combat Life Saver class, sprung to action, applying a tourniquet and keeping the patient calm until emergency medical transport arrived.

“That was really cool to hear,” said Ducut. “They didn’t just sit there like any other bystander; they acted to help that person because they have the knowledge and the ability.”

The Combat Life Saver class has proven itself time and time again as a valuable asset to the military as a whole. With corpsman like Ducut continuing to spread their knowledge of lifesaving skills, Marines and service members worldwide will continue to make it home from the battlefield.