FORT BRAGG, NC – SWCS training is tough. Extreme weather, mental stress and high-intensity physical labor push current and potential special-operations Soldiers to the max. While these students are focused on their training, SWCS medics are focusing on their health and safety.
Sixteen medics are assigned to 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne) to support all levels of special-operations training exercises.
They are located everywhere SWCS students train, supporting airborne operations, helicopter infils, shooting ranges, road marches, land navigation training and any other training event run in 1st SWTG(A).
Robin Sage, one exception, is self-supported by students training to be medics and the course’s own medic cadre.
Sgt. 1st Class Scott Cole has been a medic in the military for over 12 years and is now assigned to 1st SWTG(A)’s 1st Battalion, supporting tactical combat skills training.
“These [students] push themselves so hard, you want to do everything in your power to help them stay healthy and prevent any problems,” he said.
Cole’s team of special-operations medics work 24 hours a day when training is on the calendar. On average, each medic is responsible for more than 70 Soldiers.
Whether traveling in the woods during land navigation or doing sick call follow-ups after a road march, these medics stand side-by-side with cadre and students no matter the conditions; snow storms, high heat, complete darkness and everything in between.
“If the students leave for training, we’re going with them wherever, whenever they go,” Cole said.
“[This assignment] is almost like being deployed; you spend all your time [in the field.]”
The medics are charged with keeping these Soldiers healthy in every way; from treating their injuries to giving them medical advice that might prepare them for a long, healthy career.
“Everyone here recognizes the importance of their training,” Cole said. “I want to do everything I can to treat them and keep them in training.”
Preventive measures through student education and proactive cadre assessments are used by the medics to prevent or keep injuries minor.
These medics also teach basic medical life-saving skills and conduct classes concerning wildlife, nutrition and warning signs for potential temperature-related injuries.
“We’re teaching things that if it hasn’t already saved their lives, it will,” Cole said.
Medics also work with cadre members to ensure Soldiers’ safety by looking for early warning signs and making adjustments because of weather conditions without sacrificing the training.
This is important, because while safety is a top priority in all SWCS courses, realistic exercises are sometimes necessary in order to prepare Soldiers for their missions and roles as members of special-operations units. In concert with safety controls and the experience and expertise of cadre members, medical support personnel are vital to SWCS’ mission.
“This job keeps your skills sharp because you never know what to expect,” said Cole. “Everyone really knows their stuff and is competent in the field, which makes it fun.”
Cole said these medics are great to work with because they are forward thinkers able to analyze situations, decipher causes and work to prevent injuries.
“There is no doubt special-operations Soldiers make a difference in the world, and we are there to make a difference to them.”