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Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Skaggs teaches Marines how to properly lift and carry casualties during a simulated causality evacuation scenario at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Jan. 27 2016. This training was part of the newly formed combat operation medical emergency transport training. COMETT exposes the aircrew to medical emergencies and procedures they may encounter in combat and non-combat environments. Skaggs, a Pensacola native, is an aeromedical safety corpsman with Marine Aircraft Group 29.

Photo by Cpl. Jonathan Boynes

New medical training bridges gap between aircrew, care providers

4 Feb 2016 | Cpl. Jonathan Boynes The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Cultivating a well trained and highly educated force allows the Marine Corps to keep pace with the unpredictable and evolving geo-political landscape. The educators, mentors, and leaders charged with developing America’s premiere fighting force must continually rely on their ingenuity and experience to preserve this world-renowned standard of military excellence.

The newly formed combat operation medical emergency transport training is one of many new courses, built from the ground up, offered to Marines and naval personnel. Although still under development, it is just another token highlighting the commitment service members have to bolstering their nation’s strength and protecting their brothers-in-arms.

One of the first renditions of the training was conducted on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Jan. 27 2016.

“COMETT exposes the aircrew to medical emergencies and procedures they may encounter in combat and non-combat environments,” said 1st Lt. Christopher Murr, an aeromedical safety officer with Marine Aircraft Group 39, and Indianapolis native. “The hands-on-training evolution allows aircrewmen, who may have not had Combat Life Savers training, the opportunity to apply general life-extending medical procedures to manikins aboard their respective aircraft platforms. Exposing service members to these training events essentially allows Navy medicine the opportunity to showcase the types of formalized training that may be available. In the end, it is about being prepared on the battlefield,” continued Murr.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Skaggs, an aeromedical safety corpsman with Marine Aircraft Group 29, said he was inspired to design the training after learning of the experiences of an aircrewman who had been thrust into a casualty evacuation situation involving two British soldiers with life-threatening injuries.

“They were caught off guard with the situation, but they did the best that they could with their limited medical training,” said Skaggs, a native of Pensacola, Florida. “After that conversation, I went to the drawing board to design something that would bridge the gap between medical personnel and aircrews.”

As it stands, COMETT is a course that can be delivered within a few hours. It is condensed enough to fit into the demanding work tempo of aircrewmen, but also thorough enough to provide a comprehensive understanding of life-saving procedures.

Capt. Ayleah Alejandre, an aviation safety officer with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164, said that it has become evident, after many years of war and conflict around the globe, that causality evacuations of service members and civilians have become a major part of Marine Corps aviation and designing training programs tailored to a more modern mission is a focus.

“The end goal is to have all crew members experienced enough with medical procedures that they could take on some of the responsibilities of a corpsman or flight surgeon, while still having the flexibility to effectively complete their primary duties. We can’t expect them to be experts in both fields, but finding a balance between the two will make the Marine Corps a much stronger force.”

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