U.S. MARINE CORPS
U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Matthew B. McClaughlin, with
3rd Squad, 1st Platoon, Company L, Battalion Landing
Team 3/8, Regimental Combat Team 8, presses gauze on
the wounds of a young Afghan boy outside Compound 302,
near Combat Outpost Ouellette, Helmand province,
Afghanistan, March 11. The boy’s injuries were sustained
from the fragments of an improvised explosive device.
Sailors learn field medicine from veterans who have
been in Iraq and Afghanistan and landed with Marines
in amphibious operations. The course covers casualty
care including hemorrhage control; respiratory trauma, airway injuries and breathing; shock; stress; environmental injuries like extreme heat and cold; burns;
fractures; triage and preventive medicine; and lots of
Virtually every FMTB staff member — Marines and
Sailors — are combat veterans. Many have from two to
four combat tours. One young HM2 — who was promoted at the school while she was an instructor — had
five combat tours under her belt.
“The training our students get is much more
advanced, with much better equipment than what I re-
ceived in 1994,” said HM1 Robert Adams, an FMTB-E
instructor. “We are much more focused on casualty
assessment and combat trauma treatment today.”
To prepare them for the rigors of the field, the FMTB
stresses physical training, including runs, hikes and a
litter obstacle course that requires carries and crawls,
as well as team-building drills that prepare them for
the combat environment.
The FMTB also introduces them to skills that they
will improve upon once they report to their Marine
Corps units, such as mountain and desert warfare operations and sick call screening.
“FMTB provides the core competencies to enable
the student to be a cohesive member of a Marine unit,
patrolling, formations, marksmanship and responding
to IEDs [improvised explosive devices],” Wright said.
FMTB stresses Tactical Combat Casualty Care
“It’s the standard,” Adams said. “T-triple-C is the
baseline that all the services use for medical training
and treatment. The Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air
Force all follow the same standard, and it’s infused into
The eight-week course is broken into five blocks of
“The first block is an introduction to the Marine
Corps, such as leadership traits and principles, chain of
command and rank structure, Marine Corps uniforms
and equipment,” Miles said. “It’s very basic, like the difference between a company, a battalion and a brigade.”
They also learn about heat injuries, cold injuries,
care of the feet and dehydration.
“These are things they’re going to encounter in the
next eight weeks. As they start going on runs and
hikes, they can recognize that if someone starts getting
red, hot and dry, then we know we’re looking at a heat
stroke situation,” Miles said.
The primary focus of Block 2 is the TCCC skill set,
the skills necessary to save a life on the battlefield.
Block 3 is focused on nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) warfare equipment, and signs, symptoms of
and treatment for an NBC attack.
Block 4 teaches a range of topics that include blast
injuries, Battalion Aid Station (BAS) procedures, preventive medicine, triage and combat stress issues.
The final block presents the bulk of the Marine
Corps-specific information, such as fighting positions,
squad-size attacks, operation orders and familiarization with their weapon, the M4 carbine.