FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – Pennsylvania National Guard members who were activated for COVID-19 support missions received medical training April 20 to 24 at Fort Indiantown Gap’s Medical Battalion Training Site.
About 20 Air and Army National Guard members completed the course, which included four days of classroom and hands-on training and a culminating exercise on April 24.
The course was essentially the Army’s Combat Lifesaver Course with a few added tasks that could be applicable to COVID-19 support, said Sgt. Mark McClenithan, a medic with the MBTS who helped run the course.
“Setting up an oxygen tank and putting the tube in is not part of Combat Lifesaver,” McClenithan said. ”That was more of a civilian application, but it was something we thought would be really beneficial.”
McClenithan described the Combat Lifesaver Course as an advanced first-aid class that’s designed to teach service members the skills to bridge the gap between from the point of injury to the time a medic can get to the injured person. It teaches basic medical skills, such as putting on tourniquets, making improvised tourniquets and treating open chest wounds.
The MBTS typically does not teach the Combat Lifesaver Course. It does, however, offer a medic transition course for Soldiers who are transitioning from a different military occupational specialty.
Most of the Guard members who took the course have non-medical MOSs.
“This is something that we put together to assist the larger mission – more in-depth medical training because quite a few members that are here on-ground come from a variety of MOSs, “ McClenithan said.
Staff Sgt. Mark Reppert, a plumber with the 193rd Special Operations Wing’s 201st RED HORSE Squadron, said the class was very beneficial.
“This training just puts another tool in your tool box, so you can take away from here and apply it to many walks of life,” he said. “It was difficult, but I definitely learned a lot of good things over the course of the week.”
Before the class, Reppert said, he does not know if he would have been able to help someone who required medical attention.
“Afterwards, I feel more confident going out and being able to treat that initial injury and then get them to the medic so that they can continue to perform care on them,” he said.
In addition to a combat situation, Reppert said the skills he learned could be used in everyday life.
“If you’re the first to arrive at a car accident you could apply these things,” he said. “It could be the difference between life and death.”