Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Active Duty and reserve EOD Airmen learn lifesaving skills

by Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

12/9/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Imagine: you're an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician deployed and on a convoy. While driving you come across something in the road. As one of two EOD techs in the convoy it's your job to get out of the vehicle and respond to the unidentified Improvised Explosive Device while wearing a suit that weighs about 60 pounds. As you get closer to the unidentified item, you start to receive heavy fire and are wounded in the neck before the IED can be disarmed. Because you did not disarm the IED only another EOD member can respond to and treat your wounds.

For a wound like this, it would be useful for EOD techs to know Tactical Combat Casualty Care or T-CCC otherwise known as the best way to treat possibly fatal wounds. However, this is not training the EOD career field normally receives.

However, the 375th Air Mobility Wing and 932nd Airlift Wing Explosive Ordnance flights were trained by Raidon Tactics Inc. on T-CCC here Dec. 1-4, 2014. Scott's EOD flights have a 5 state response area and respond to all military ordnance that they are made aware of regardless of its proximity to a military installation in parts of or all of Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

Staff Sgt. Jesus Cortinas, EOD tech, said, "We [EOD career field] do a lot of training because we never know when and what we are going to encounter."

T-CCC is a set of lifesaving procedures developed in the late 1990s by special operations units to offer the best chance for injured troops to survive otherwise fatal wounds. T-CCC teaches those who first respond, in this case EOD techs, how to identify three major causes of potentially survivable battlefield injuries -- hemorrhage, pneumothorax and blocked airway -- and treat them aggressively.

"This whole system is based on tactical field care based on years of experience," said Frank McRae, lead instructor and former U.S. Army Special Forces. "We noticed, by using this system of care, the survivability rate of most military members field has increased."

There are three parts to T-CCC.

Care under Fire: Care rendered at the scene of the injury while both the medic and the casualty are under hostile fire. Available medical equipment is limited to that carried by each operator and the medic;

Tactical Field Care: Rendered once the casualty is no longer under hostile fire. Medical equipment is still limited to that carried into the field by mission personnel. Time prior to evacuation may range from a few minutes to many hours.

Tactical Evacuation Care: Rendered while the casualty is evacuated to a higher echelon of care. Any additional personnel and medical equipment pre-staged in these assets will be available during this phase.
The members were also taught to treat wounds in a certain order using the acronym M-A-R-C-H. M - Massive Bleeding, A - Airway, R - Respirations, C - Circulation and H - Head.
On the last day of training, the three teams of four, a medic who provided primary care with the help of assistant medic, a team leader and one security member, were required to use all the skills they learned from the past four days of training in a real care under fire scenario. The EOD techs spent five hours caring for live simulated injured personnel why instructors fired simulated rounds.

The training scenario objectives required the EOD tech to display tourniquet application and hemorrhage control, needle decompression, patient movement and splinting, nasopharyngeal airway insertion and a MEDEVAC request. Each team also evacuated patients, provided return fire, and evaluated each other.

McRae said most students don't understand the how the body works enough to figure out the problem causing all the other issues in the patient.

"For instance one of the simulated patients had a chest wall compromise and it kept causing problem after problem," said McRae. "The EOD member exercising as one of the medics went back to what he learned, searched the whole chest, found the wound causing the problem, treated it and continued treating the other problems. He saved that patient's life. If he wouldn't have found that wound, [the patient] would have died. Ironically he was one of the students in class asking all the questions."

According to McRae, every Airmen, soldier, sailor and Marine in a combat support role need to have T-CCC. These EOD members are now enabler units to his old Special Forces unit. Two of these guys were actually attached to his unit in Afghanistan doing combat operations before he retired.

"I owe it to [my fellow EOD members] to train as much as I need to if it will help me save one of their lives," said Cortinas. "I hope most of the guys I work with have the same mentality because it might be one of them saving my life one day."

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