Lance Cpl. Alexander Hoffman, a Military
Police member with Anti-Terrorism Force Protection from Friendswood,
Texas, practices using a pressure dressing on Lance Cpl. Jeff Leddy,
a Military Police member with Anti-Terrorism Force Protection from
Inman, Kan., during the two-day Combat Lifesaver course held by I
Marine Headquarters Group (Forward) April 19, 2012. Photo by Army
Spc. Chelsea Russell
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (5/8/2012) - The gentle whir of the
air conditioners was barely perceptible over the confident voices of
the Marines as they reviewed the written test portion of the Combat
Lifesaver Course held at Camp Leatherneck, April 18 and 19.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Isaiah Bowen, a hospital corpsman and the
assistant lead petty officer for I Marine Expeditionary Force
Headquarters Group (Forward), has been teaching CLS since 2006.
Although the class content may change every few years, he explained
it's still pretty much the same course he taught when he first
The curriculum for the class is
standardized across all services. Every two years the administrators
of the CLS course get together and re-evaluate the information
contained within the course because medicine is always changing.
Along with the medical changes that are constantly occurring,
the tactics of combat medics have also undergone various changes
throughout the years.
“The Taliban fight a nontraditional
war,” said Bowen. “They don't follow Geneva conventions. According
to Geneva conventions I'm a noncombatant.”
As a medic, Bowen
isn't supposed to get shot at by enemy combatants. He's not supposed
to be the casualty.
“Unfortunately, corpsmen, on an enemy
scale, are one of the top three,” he explained. “Officer,
communications and corpsmen are the three people that stand out the
most. They tend to want to
shoot at us or toward us.”
Hence the reason why combat medics no longer wear
the big red badge commonly seen throughout World War II and
Vietnam eras. The bright red badges with the symbol of a
cross were once worn with pride, but now make medical
personnel a vulnerable target to an enemy with no concerns
for adhering to the guidelines of a treaty that holds no
meaning for them.
Corpsmen do get hurt, despite their
best efforts to avoid being targeted by the enemy.
Therefore, it's useful to have CLS trained service members
who can aid the corpsmen when treating injuries in a combat
situation and there's also someone who can treat the
corpsmen in the instance they are injured.
helpful to have more hands and more help than just us,” said
Bowen. “When we get hurt, if there's no one left to save us
then we're all in a world of hurt. It's a contingency plan
and also an aid for us.”
Bowen said CLS certified
service members come into play more than people want to
“If I'm already busy or a platoon gets
separated on a convoy, it could already be too late by the
time I get there,” explained Bowen. “So, having a CLS there
to sustain them until the corpsman gets there to do more
in-depth interventions actually saves a lot of peoples'
Just a few weeks ago, a corpsman was injured
by an improvised explosive device while on a foot patrol.
The CLS Marines were the ones who provided aid to him and
the other Marines injured by the blast.
There is a
lot of information contained within the CLS course, but
Lance Cpl. Jeff Leddy, a military police member with
Anti-Terrorism Force Protection from Inman, Kan., said it's
a valuable course to take, especially in a war zone where
those skills could become invaluable.
“I thought it
was informative because I learned some techniques I never
really knew before,” said Leddy. “The information was taught
in a way that I could understand it and then they adequately
He volunteered to have the six-inch
nasopharyngeal tube inserted into his nasal passage as part
of a demonstration for the class. Leddy said the experience
of having the tube in his nose was probably one of the most
uncomfortable things he's had done to him other than being
sprayed with pepper spray as part of his training to be an
MP. He grimaced as he recalled the experience; it's not
something he wants to repeat anytime soon.
be the fourth CLS course I MHG (Fwd) has held since arriving
here. There were five students in the class and, despite the
sheer amount of content compressed into two days time, all
of them passed.
Bowen said his most recent students
did very well within the course and were eager to tackle any
scenario he threw at them. He hopes they are now able to
competently treat their fellow service members in the
instance they are injured during a mission.
nothing else, I hope they're now able to recognize
life-threatening wounds and how to treat an airway and how
to keep an airway open,” said Bowen. “If they can do those
three basic things, then it saves a lot of lives.”
a teacher, Bowen enjoys getting up in front of his students
and sharing his experiences as a combat medic. The sense of
satisfaction he feels at the conclusion of a well-taught CLS
course lets him know he's done his part in sharing his
hard-earned knowledge with others.
“It's good to see
people go from knowing nothing to actually sitting there and
performing the full assessment,” said Bowen. “It makes us
feel more comfortable if we have to do missions with them or
go on a patrol or convoy with them that we have somebody
there to save us in case we get hurt. Anybody can restart an
engine, not everyone can save a life. It's a little more
The recent graduates of the CLS course
taught here are ready to conquer any life-threatening
instances they may encounter during their deployment due to
the training they received. Each one of them is filled with
pride at the thought that they are now capable of providing
care to those who may get injured in the pursuit of
defending their country. It's a tough job, but they're more
than able to handle any situation they may encounter during
By Army Spc. Chelsea Russell
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