By Senior Airman Alex Kaelke
137th Special Operations Wing
Twenty-two Airmen from multiple medical squadrons participated in a Tactical Combat Casualty Care for Medical Personnel (TCCC-MP) course on Aug. 3-4, 2020, at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City.
The 137th Special Operations Medical Group, 137th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (137th AES), and the 72d Medical Group from Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City all participated in the training course, which was presented by the Oklahoma Emergency Medical Services Authority and the Oklahoma Center for Prehospital and Disaster Medicine. Students included flight nurses, medical technicians and physicians.
“I think this course provides students with a higher level of confidence in performing casualty care in a combat situation,” said Lt. Col. Stephanie Lane, acting commander of the 137th AES, which hosted the TCCC-MP. “This is probably one of the most realistic trainings our Airmen could attend, although nothing is equivalent to the real situation.”
The goal of the two-day course is to highlight the difference of healthcare in a tactical environment rather than a controlled environment and provide evidence-based trauma care to medical providers. The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians facilitates the program for worldwide military use.
Airmen learned how to respond to various medical situations with specialized equipment, including a prosthetic which simulates a hemorrhaging wound. Using the prosthetic teaches students how to quickly pack a wound with combat gauze in a life-threatening hemorrhage situation. They also focused on the fundamentals of combat casualty care, such as applying tourniquets to aid simulated trauma patients with uncontrollable bleeding.
“We brought in family members and volunteers to act as trauma patients,” said Maj. Christopher Lane, director of operations and senior flight nurse for the 137th AES. “Their spontaneity and ability to adapt to the circumstances makes us better. It adds to the chaos and validates the effectiveness of the training.”
Through joint-squadron learning, Airmen are trained to respond to combat medical emergencies and function cohesively together. This creates the continuity of care needed to save lives on the battlefield when seconds mean everything.
“It really helps us to consider what an unsecured and non-traditional care environment looks like,” said Maj. Lane. “TCCC really takes us out of that comfort zone— out of that hospital or out of that airplane where we have all the equipment that we need and we’re relatively safe, and puts us in an environment where we have to think about our own safety and adapt to those limitations to provide the best care we can.”