FORT DRUM — With a mannequin’s life on the line, Navy Reserve sailors rushed from a simulated Humvee explosion through an obstacle course on post, creating the muscle memory for medical emergencies on the battlefield.
“All we can do is create a stressful, difficult environment, so that the training starts to take over, so that we can give them the best possible chance when they do deploy to be able to react correctly when somebody requires aid,” said Chief Petty Officer Sherman L. Price, of Operational Health Support Unit Portsmouth.
About 90 reservists from the unit went through the training Friday, joined by several Army soldiers from the post’s 10th Mountain Division, along with Air Force airmen.
Despite some differences in approach, Lt. Jair Bentos-Pereira, officer in charge of the Naval unit’s training, said the key was “speaking the same language.”
“When it comes down to saving a life ... there’s one focal point, and that’s making sure our boys and girls can make it out alive,” he said.
In their early training, the groups showed some signs of their inexperience with the carries, as they handled pressure from a collection of overseeing personnel and a loud recording of weapons fire and explosions.
One group struggled with the hand positioning for its stretcher, while another group ran its stretcher into a tree. A later combined group got an extra dose of verbal encouragement after a slow trip through the course.
“The environment is challenging enough without the noise, the fireworks, bells and whistles,” Lt. Bentos-Pereira said.
Despite the early faults, the foundational learning process is key for when personnel are called upon overseas, he said.
“Once the casualty comes in, basically it’s a finely oiled machine,” Lt. Bentos-Pereira said. “Everybody knows what they need to do, and it’s knowing your part, where you fit in.”
After clearing the course, the troops rushed to the post’s Medical Simulation Training Center. The center has $61,000 mannequins that recreate elements of battlefield care, including programmable injuries and mannerisms such as impacted breathing and blinking.
“When they do something with the mannequin, they should see the effect of that almost immediately,” said Brian J. Peplinski, who operated the simulation training.
This year is the second that the Naval Reserve unit has come to post. After a week of training, the unit will conclude its training locally this week.
Video from the training event can be found at http://wdt.me/navy-drum.