Marines

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Army Maj. James R. Britton, 629th Forward Surgical Team, explains and demonstrates proper suturing techniques to Innovative Readiness Training Joint Task-Force Summit West Virginia personnel, during one of the unit’s daily “Buddy Aid” medical training courses, at Mount Hope, W. Va., Aug. 6. IRT Summit is a Marine-led training event with support from the Navy Reserve, Army Reserve and Army National Guard. It provides real-world training opportunities for service members and units to prepare them for their wartime missions while supporting the needs of America’s underserved communities

Photo by Cpl. Fenton Reese

Buddy Aid: West Virginia IRT task force gains, refreshes “vital” skills during AT

15 Aug 2013 | Cpl. Fenton Reese

"What are you going to do if you are on a job or in combat and your buddy goes down?,” asked Army Maj. James R. Britton, 629th Forward Surgical Team. “His life could be in your hands.”

Marines, soldiers and sailors of Innovative Readiness Training Joint Task-Force Summit West Virginia participated in daily “Buddy Aid” skills training implemented to teach and refresh basic medical life saving techniques in emergency situations, at Mount Hope, W. Va., Aug. 5-9.

IRT Summit is a Marine-led training event with support from the Navy Reserve, Army Reserve and Army National Guard. It provides real-world training opportunities for service members and units to prepare them for their wartime missions while supporting the needs of America’s underserved communities.

The term “Buddy Aid” was termed by Britton on the first day of training. He said it was the only way he could describe the training.

“The first person that’s going to be on the scene whenever there’s an injured soldier or an accident is going to be their buddy,” said Britton. “That buddy is going to be the first responder long before medical ever makes it to the injured service member.”

“Studies have shown over and over, the quicker we get treatment to somebody the better the results,” he said.

During this training, students participated in classes covering CPR, intravenous therapy, suturing and a condensed combat-lifesavers course.

“This training gives people a broader perspective,” said Navy Capt. Kathleen A. McGowan, officer-in-charge of the IRT Summit medical department. “In your military career, you never know what exactly you may need to do. This provides these individuals an additional skill set that they can employ whenever needed, to try to help another individual.”

Every day a different group of Marines, sailors and soldiers rotated through the different courses with the overall intent of revisiting and re-teaching all the IRT personnel the basic medical skills necessary to be ready for any scenario from the jobsite, to the battlefield and on the home front.

“It’s pretty good training… I did the CLS course two years ago and was CPR certified three years ago,” said Cpl. Eric Emler, a motor transportation operator with 6th Engineer Support Battalion. “Overall, the knowledge is great to have.”

When Emler took the course before, he said it had a lot of content to comprehend. Since the content has been condensed and made easier to understand, he feels confident that if a situation was to arise, with this type of training he would be better prepared now to handle it.

IRT Summit personnel were provided with the latest in portable CPR materials by the Marine Forces Reserve safety office. These materials gave students the opportunity to get hands-on training and earn their certifications.

Britton said that his goal was to refresh the Marines’, soldiers’ and sailors’ knowledge who have been through the sanctioned courses and teach those who have not. Ultimately, he wants all personnel to be familiar with the skills to effectively provide immediate medical support in any situation and scenario with or without materials.

When a service member is out doing a project and something happens, there are many times when the only materials available will be those of an Individual First Aid Kit. Many times, there may be less than that or nothing at all, Britton said.

“My whole goal was to ensure that they got the training on what to do if you have the equipment, but to think outside the box,” said Britton. “What do I do if I don’t have any fancy medical equipment.”

Emler agreed, and said that all the training was very effective and completely covered all the basics service members need to be effective.

“I learned a lot of unique information from the instructors, in addition to what I already knew,” said Emler. “I like how we went over multiple scenarios to give us a full spectrum of possible situations.  And, we went over things like if the equipment for procedures is available or if not. It was very helpful.”

Due to limited resources and time, the unit was unable to conduct a fully-certifying CLS class but the students were able to get their CPR certification cards and they were able to build vital medical skills that can be employed during any mission, or in their off-duty time in the civilian sector.