Medical Simulation Training Center opened Dec. 12

By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD — Sgt. Christopher Wells and several other medics from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment were under fire Tuesday afternoon.

As they approached a building, firing their weapons in a haze of smoke and noise, Wells could see an injured soldier lying lifeless on the ground.

As he dragged the bleeding soldier to safety, a leg fell off and remained in the dangerous, open area.

"Limb! Where's his limb?" someone shouted

Wells and another medic unrolled a litter and loaded the injured soldier before pulling him to safety, grabbing the detached leg as they ran by.

Then, as quickly as it started, the lights came on and revealed a crowd of soldiers and civilians who had been standing around, watching the action.

Wells and his crew had just demonstrated a "care under fire lane" at Fort Hood's new Medical Simulation Training Center. They had to run in front of a two-story building while shooting and being shot at by opposing forces and retrieve a bloodied dummy that simulated an injured soldier.

The center contains a series of stations like a field hospital, tactical field care and triage areas and the care under fire lane. It also contains a 10-acre field south of the building, where soldiers can practice carrying litters. It will be used to provide Combat Medical Advanced Skills Training and Combat Life Saver training for soldiers, sailors, airmen and other federal agencies, according to information from the center.

It is part of an Armywide effort to standardize medical training and prepare soldiers for the stressful situations they may encounter during a deployment.

Wells has been to Iraq once and said training at the center was "very real to life" in the way it duplicates the adrenaline, intensity and noise in a combat situation.

The training is very beneficial, especially for newer soldiers, he said. Their first time working in a stressful situation shouldn't be the first time they go out on a mission, he added.

Soldiers are encountering different situations in this war than in the past, said Richardo Acosta, the center's senior trainer, and this high-intensity training is crucial. Acosta is a 12-year Army veteran who served as a medic.

"It's very important to put them in these scenarios," he said.

The Army's surgeon general, Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, was at the opening and said the center would help get soldiers as ready as they could before a deployment. Before Army posts started getting these high-tech training centers, soldiers' skills were tested during a semiannual evaluation in a classroom, he said.

The soldiers have always been well trained, the surgeon general said, but they didn't have a simulation center quite like the new one.

The training the 10,000-square-foot facility provides is "just short of combat operations," Kiley said. It is a success story for Fort Hood, for the Army medical field and for the Army, he added.

The Army used to train its medics like emergency medical technicians, Kiley said, but the situations they would encounter in Iraq were different from what they would experience in the streets of a city.

The primary concerns for an EMT are the ABCs: airway, breathing and circulation. For a combat medic or combat lifesaver, bleeding and the soldier's' safety are the first thing that must be controlled.

The enemy won't stop shooting at medics because they're medics, Kiley said. Medical care providers must think about their safety and that of their patient. Reflexive thinking is the value of this training, he said.

Changes in training and advancements in combat medical care are why survival rates are so high among American soldiers, Kiley said. Of the thousands who are injured in combat, a vast majority of those are able to return to duty, said Col. Jim Rice, the 13th Sustainment's rear detachment and 1st Medical Brigade commander.

The brigade hosted the ribbon-cutting for the Medical Simulation Training Center's grand opening


news photo
Soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment go through a simulation demostration for the opening of the medical simulation training center Dec. 12. MSTC will be used to train medics and combat life savers to provide medical care during stressful combat operations.