Medical Simulation Training Center prepares for when it matters most

An instructor at the Medical Simulation Training Center explains how to make an improvised chest seal for a sunken chest wound on a mannequin to Soldiers as part of a Combat Lifesaver course here Sept. 12. Photo by Pfc. Christina Westfall, 24th Press Camp Headquarters.

An instructor at the Medical Simulation Training Center explains how to make an improvised chest seal for a sunken chest wound on a mannequin to Soldiers as part of a Combat Lifesaver course here Sept. 12. Photo by Pfc. Christina Westfall, 24th Press Camp Headquarters.

By Pfc. Christina Westfall, 24th Press Camp Headquarters:

(El Paso, Texas, Sept. 21, 2017)

Timing is critical in a deployed environment, and seconds can mean the difference between life and death. At Fort Bliss, the Medical Simulation Training Center provides hands- on experience and realistic combat lifesaving classes to prepare Soldiers for when it matters most.

The 40-hour course consists of learning tourniquet placement, how to open nasopharyngeal airways, often called NPA, and performing needle chest decompression, often called NCD, to treat tension pneumothorax or a collapsed lung. Soldiers use tourniquets to stop severe bleeding, and NPA or NCD to manage the airway or lung function.

“This is critical training to aid in preventing battlefield deaths that could otherwise be lost,” said Malcolm Carlyle, a technical instructor at the MSTC, Sept. 12. “The first thing we focus on is massive hemorrhaging. We teach them airway management, chest trauma, how to fill out a 9-line medevac, buddy carries and litter carries.”

The instructors teach up-to-date, accurate information and provide scenarios to challenge the Soldiers’ knowledge so they can put it to use in practical situations.

“We’re not just showing them how to do it,” Carlyle said. “We’re explaining the importance and the significance of doing the interventions as well.”

The course is specific to modern day injuries sustained in combat or wartime situations. The training uses mannequins that have realistic injuries, such as amputations from improvised explosive device blasts. The mannequins move and speak to add stressors to simulate a battlefield situation. They also have amputations that “bleed” profusely until the proper measures are in place to stop the bleeding.

“It’s one thing to know the information,” Carlyle said. “It’s another to be able to get into a classroom, pass that information along and put it in a format where they can then use that training. The hands-on component that we provide at the MSTC is probably one of the most critical parts of it.”