Maj. Dave Thompson, assistant product manager for the
medical simulation training center program at the Army’s
Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and
Instrumentation, explains how medics are trained on the
tethered “breathe-and-bleed” mannequin to visitors at a
display on Capitol Hill. The same mannequins, acquired
through the Army, are used to train corpsmen at the
Combat Trauma Simulation Laboratory.
casualties in that format. They’re running into casualties in an urban environment, a very dirty environment, a very chaotic environment, and I needed to create that environment in the lab.”
The lab graduated its first class in December and
most are waiting to deploy, though some are already in
Iraq, Saenz said.
Despite incredible survivability rates for what were once
deadly wounds — roughly 87 percent of casualties who
would have died in Vietnam survive today — Saenz said it
is important to train in the most realistic way possible.
“If we take them from the classroom and then put
them directly in the Marine Corps with no previous
scenario-type training, it’s going to be too shocking for
them,” he said.
Saenz said when he went to Mojave Viper, a deploying Marine unit’s culminating and most realistic training exercise before going into theater, he watched
corpsman and combat lifesavers completely freeze
when they saw a mock casualty with an amputation
“They weren’t reacting,” he said. “Now they’re getting it here at the lab, at Mojave Viper and Combat
Trauma Training, where they use real animal tissue, so
they’ve experienced the blood and the gore at least
three times before they deploy.”
“I’m sure even with all the simulation, it’s probably
a little more calm here than it would be out in the field,
but I think it’ll be pretty close,” said one student.
He added that the mannequins were a “great” training tool.
During the corpsmens’ eight-week stint at Field
Medical-East, the mannequins are used to practice
many of the lessons learned in the classroom. For
example, if they learn about tourniquets in the classroom, they will then spend some time in the lab practicing their use. Simulating the real world as much as
possible, students will crawl toward the mannequin as
if under fire, as the instructor watches to make sure
they work down the checklist of things to look for, all
the time giving verbal queues about what each student
is doing right or wrong.
Toward the end of the eight-week period, however,
the lab and the mannequins are used to the greatest
effect in a crucible event that replicates the hell of war
very closely. Lights flash, smoke fills the air, explosions
ring out and the “wounded” pile up, many of them
with horrifying injuries.
The lab provides corpsmen realistic training, but
Saenz said it saves money as well. He said it costs
$55,000 to hire a contractor for just one event like
Mojave Viper. The mannequins cost $65,000 each but
can be used again and again.
While the current mannequins are tethered to
pumps and computers, the lab will be getting more
advanced, tetherless models soon, officials said. This
will allow for an even more realistic experience,
including moving the injured for medical evacuation
or out of harm’s way.
“When we get the tetherless mannequins, we’ll be
able to take the mannequin, put it on a stretcher, put it
in an ambulance and drive it to a battalion aid station
where we can continue to simulate the environment,”
He said that by the end of the year there should be
a similar lab at Field Medical Training Battalion-West,
located at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
“This is as real as you can get, and it’s saving lives,”
said Rowe. ■
CPL. PATRICK M. FLEISCHMAN
An instructor demonstrates how artificial wounds can
spurt blood during Field Medical Training Battalion’s
Casualty Assessment Class. High-tech mannequins with
realistic wounds and reactions help provide corpsmen with
“as real as you can get” trauma training scenarios.