Magazine article Army Reserve Magazine

Combat Medics Take the Plunge

Magazine article Army Reserve Magazine

Combat Medics Take the Plunge

Article excerpt

LEMOORE NAVAL AIR STATION, Calif.-You might say that 80 members of the 352nd Combat Support Hospital (Hospital Unit Surgical) from Fresno, California were wet behind the ears - that is before they took the plunge and went through a day of training few will soon forget.

They completed the Combat Medical Survival Water Course, otherwise known as COMSWC. COMSWC was the idea of the Fresno-based hospital's training section. It soon developed as a way to jointly combine U.S. Army medical training with the Naval Operational Medicine Institute Aviation Survival Training Center located at Lemoore Naval Air Station.

The course

COMSWC is approved by the California Bureau of Registered Nurses for eight continuing education credits (CEU's). Conducted annually, the training consists of classroom lecture and participation on survival at sea. It includes a combat survival swim with MI 6A2 rifle, BDU's and full load bearing equipment (LBE); lecture and demonstration on various issue and field expedient floatation devices found on aircraft; cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); and stabilization and egress from the water of patients utilizing backboards and swimming techniques.

Many of the soldiers found the training stimulating.

"This is the first time we began egressing simulated patients with the stretcher in the 15 foot deep pool, and it was really tough!" said Sgt. Dao Pongsavong.

During the training, four soldiers must stabilize the patient in the water, get the patient on the backboard without injuring the spine, strap the patient in, and then swim the patient out of the pool.

"The hardest part is climbing out of the pool and lifting that stretcher out of the water," stated Cadet Andrew Futcher. "Being a nurse or medic on land is one thing, but giving patient care when you're wet, tired, and treading water is something else," noted Lt. Col. George Luena as he sat on the side of the pool catching his breath. …

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