Photo Information

A corpsman with Field Medical Training Battalion West learns to perform an emergency cricothyroidotomy to re-establish a functioning airway on a simulated wounded victim during the Field Medical Service Technician Course aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 18, 2015. The course is an 8-week period of instruction that includes classwork, intense physical training and practical application of field medical techniques. (Photo by Pvt. Robert Bliss/Released)

Photo by Pvt. Robert Bliss

Corpsmen embrace the green side

18 Aug 2015 | Courtesy Story I Marine Expeditionary Force

Navy corpsmen with Field Medical Training Battalion West began their fourth week of the Field Medical Service Technician Course aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 18, 2015.

The course is an in-depth 8-week program that teaches corpsmen the skills and confidence they need to utilize their medical training on the battlefield.

“Physically intensive is the name of the game around here,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class William Hoff, a hospital corpsman serving as an instructor with FMTB West. “When we send a corpsman to the fleet, they have to be able to do everything the Marines do, but they also have to do their medical duties.”
 
The program starts out with basic classes and physical training and gradually becomes more demanding as the course progresses. In week four, the corpsmen begin engaging in drills and exercises designed to deplete them both mentally and physically.
 
The tactics are meant to introduce them to the fatigue and stress they would experience in a combat environment.
 
“We want to give them an opportunity to really hone their skills,” said Hoff. “We don’t want to just show them Powerpoints and lecture them on the actual procedures; we want to give them an opportunity to get their hands dirty.”
 
Despite the stresses and duress the course induces, it gives students the confidence they need to take to the battlefield with all the necessary tools to save lives.
 
Petty Officer 1st Class Jan-Michael Columna, a student in the course, said he felt more prepared for an actual combat scenario than he did before entering the course, even given his background in preventive medicine.
 
According to Hoff, the course is one of the toughest and most challenging courses the Navy corpsmen can engage in. It pushes them mentally, physically and emotionally, but at the end of the 8-week program, the graduating corpsmen are hardened, skilled and prepared to handle any situation necessary to save lives in modern combat.
 
“Our main focus is to build that confidence and to serve the Marines the best we can,” said Hoff. “We want to send out corpsmen who are prepared, knowledgeable and ready to blend seamlessly in with the Marines.”
 
The course culminates in a 3-day field exercise, known as the Final Exercise, or FinEx, which puts the corpsmen’s accumulated knowledge to the test. The field exercise ends in a grueling 8-mile hike.
 
In the following days after the corpsmen have completed the FinEx, they are prepped for their graduation and eventual attachment to a Marine unit.
 
The Field Medical Service Technician Course helps to ensures that Marines and corpsmen remain effective in increasingly complex environments through challenging training and enhanced professional military education.