ROYAL DARWIN HOSPITAL, Australia -- A squad of U.S. Marines on a foot patrol is caught unaware by an improvised explosive device. Yelling, smoke and shrapnel fill the air as the Marines take cover to try and evaluate the situation. One Marine is suffering from severe hemorrhaging, the squad leader calls for a medical evacuation as the Marines provide security for their wounded comrade.
Once help arrives, the first level of care is the U.S. Navy hospital corpsman. Marines call them “Doc” as a term of endearment. Hospital corpsmen are attached to Marine units worldwide, and they serve as health care providers.
Corpsmen with 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force –Darwin, participated in a Remote Pre-Hospital Trauma and Disaster Course May 12 to May 13 at the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Center, Royal Darwin Hospital, Tiwi, Northern Territory, Australia.
“The purpose of this class is to enhance the knowledge we already have of life threatening injuries and potential hazards we may come across in the Northern Territory, such as car accidents,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (FMF) Matthew Powell with Headquarters and Support Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, MRF-D, and a native of Little Rock, Arkansas.
The course refreshed the corpsmen’s basic casualty care response skills and provided them with lectures, skills labs and real world practical application addressing mass casualty care in remote areas.
The course provided the corpsmen with a broad range of skills and familiarized them with scenarios they may encounter while traveling to training areas in the Northern Territory.
Sailors participated in the course to network and meet the local clinicians they may work with in the Northern Territory. They also eased their minds as they might be first responders to a road accident in a remote area, said Jody Bellette, an Australian Defence Force clinical facilitator and education consultant for the NCCTRC.
“I believe this benefits the Marines and MRF-D because we have the absolute privilege to be able to operate and train with local Australians, physicians, and exchange different tactics techniques and procedures,” said Powell. “The majority of the Navy corpsman skills focus on combat related injuries and life threatening bleeds.”
They provide emergency medical treatment while deployed in combat environments or are health care providers at medical facilities in garrison. The new skills the corpsmen gained were basic lifesaving skills focusing on the airway, breathing and circulation.
“The corpsmen are going to have a wider range of capabilities for treatment to use in more situations and be able to adapt to situations and do what they need to do to save that patients life,” said Powell.