View Full Version : Corpsmen up!:Mass casualty drill keeps HCAX on its toes

02-15-04, 07:37 AM
Corpsmen up!:Mass casualty drill keeps HCAX on its toes
Submitted by: MCB Hawaii
Story Identification Number: 2004213175735
Story by Lance Cpl. Michelle M. Dickson

POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA, ISLAND OF HAWAII, Hawaii(Feb. 5, 2004) -- POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA -- The Hawaii Combined Arms Exercise tested corpsmen who are training here on the Big Island of Hawaii during a mass casualty drill Feb. 5.

The drill began with a simulated accident, when a rocket-propelled grenade indirectly hit a seven-ton truck. Eight casualties resulted from the accident, which tested the ability of corpsmen to think and react quickly to get the injured Marines to safety.

For three of the corpsmen, it was the first time they had taken part in such a drill.

"It was a really good training evolution for them," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Martin Dierks, a CSSG-3 corpsman who explained that it was very impressive to see how they handled the situation. "They thought quickly and took all the necessary procedures to get the casualties into a safe area."

Upon arriving at the scene, the site was secured to ensure that no further injuries could occur. Once safety was established, the patients were placed into categories of needed care.

"In a field situation like this, the main priority is to get the Marines back on the front line and ready to fight again," said Dierks. "In different situations, the critically injured would receive the most care; that can't always happen out here."

In the field environment, patients are categorized as expectant, immediate and delayed. The immediate and delayed category patients are cared for first.
Immediate injuries are serious - such as bone fractures, but possibly would be allowed to return to the field if the injuries are not too bad. Delayed patients only manifest cuts and minor abrasions, while expectant category patients present the worst-case scenario. Expectant victims are critically wounded, and it's believed they will not come out of the situation alive.

"It's hard to see, but sometimes you just can't care for them exactly the way you would want to," said Dierks. "You only have so much medical equipment, and you want to put that towards a patient that you know can pull out of the situation."

According to evaluators, the drill went very well with only minor problems. The only real flaw during the exercise was keeping up good communications with the rear. Despite this, corpsmen demonstrated internal communication with one another throughout the exercise, and took precautionary measures ensuring the injured could be safely evacuated out of the area.

"It's impossible to tell what someone would really do in a wartime situation. You think on a totally different level, and it's easy to lose focus," said Dierks. "This is just such good training though, because the more you do it, the better you will get. The corpsmen out here really give it there all."


Petty Officer 3rd Class Martin Dierks, a corpsmen for Combat Service Support Group 3,leads the stretcher to the medical tent during the mass casualty drill at the Hawaii Combined Arms Exercise at the Pohakuloa Training Area, Feb. 5. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Michelle M. Dickson