ULAANBATAR, Mongolia – This scene was experienced by Korean special operations service members with the Republic of Korea’s 21st Battalion, International Peacekeeping Force, during the the combat lifesaver course, the first of seven training phases they participated in during the field-training exercise portion of Exercise Khaan Quest 2011, at Five Hills Training Area near Ulaanbatar, Mongolia, Aug. 3.
The squad worked with U.S. Navy medical personnel with the Tactical Medical Simulation Center, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, to develop muscle memory when performing life-saving measures in a combat zone, said Lt. Cmdr. Trey Hollis, a chief medical officer and planner of Khaan Quest.
The primary purpose of the center is to prepare Marines and sailors who are deploying to combat areas with combat-lifesaving skills, but this time the center’s personnel will be teaching service members from six different countries.
“This is the first time the center has been employed in a military-to-military interoperability setting,” said Hollis. “The staff provides training that is followed by a technologically-enhanced practicum, which provides muscle memory needed to ensure lessons learned today can be recalled when needed most.”
Although many of the Korean soldiers are proficient at combat first aid, they agreed the combat-lifesaver training taught them things they had never encountered before.
“In Korea, we practice each injury separately, one at a time, so it was good to be able to combine all of these treatments into one training scenario,” said Capt. Yoon Hen, platoon leader, 21st Bn., IPKF. “When I get back to Korea, I will try to improve our medical training to something similar to this.”
All the service members who participated in this training experienced a unique piece of technology. The sailors deployed the center’s 3rd generation simulation mannequin, a talking, moving dummy that reacts to medical treatment almost like a real person.
“The ability to employ such a unique asset during a field training exercise to train multinational forces in lifesaving techniques shows III MEF’s commitment to support U.S. Pacific Command’s mission of enhancing partner nations’ capabilities during peacekeeping operations,” said Hollis.
The “sim man” provides service members an invaluable aspect of training, said Mark Kane, program manager, TMSC, III MEF.
“The best part about the dummy is that the student doesn’t have to look for an instructor to get feedback, the sim man provides feedback and will tell a person whether they’re doing it right or wrong. It will even tell you to go away,” said Kane. “The [mannequin] isn’t the end-all to training though. You need to have a realistic environment to train in. The combat environment added to the training is what makes people better.”
Creating realistic environments seemed as natural to the instructors as the medical training itself. They used controlled explosives, smoke, fake blood and office furniture as props to create a simulated catastrophe.
“My brigade deploys to many different types of operations, including combative and peacekeeping operations, so it was nice to be able to train on this level of reality,” said Capt. Seong Hyun Yeon, platoon leader, 21st Bn., IPKF.
This training allowed the countries to work more cohesively in multinational peacekeeping settings, said Hollis.
The week-long training will go a long way toward improving medical theater-security cooperation within the U.S. PACOM area of responsibility, and allowing non-medical service members involved in peacekeeping operations to feel more self-confident in the event of a mass-casualty situation, according to Hollis.