Photo Information

Corpsman inserts a nasal tube into the nasal cavity of a Marine volunteer during the Combat Lifesaver Course, aboard the USS Iwo Jima, March 30.

Photo by Cpl Matt Lyman

First to fight, first to aid

31 Mar 2006 | Cpl. Matt Lyman

Saving lives on the battlefield is a difficult job that Navy corpsmen have been doing with the highest level of proficiency for decades. Now they are getting some help, by teaching Marines the skills to help keep each other in the fight.

Aboard the USS Iwo Jima, a select few 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit Marines were chosen to attend the Combat Lifesavers course on March 30.  Over a span of three days, the Marines absorbed and practiced the most up-to-date emergency skills that might be the difference between life and death for one of their brothers on the battlefield.

The course takes all of the quick-response, first-aid training the individual Marine has received since boot camp and combat training and gives it a boost that brings the Marine to the next level of emergency-aid proficiency on the battlefield.

The course is being taught by Petty Officer 3rd Class Clay Quisenberry, a Houston, Texas, native attached to Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 8th Marines. With the aid of a slideshow presentation and plenty of practical application exercises, Quisenberry will transform a roomful of Marines into first responders.

“Basically this course is meant to teach them what to do to save a Marine’s life for the first 5 to10 minutes before secondary help can arrive,” said Quisenberry.  “We can save more lives by having more people with medical knowledge out there, rather than just having the one corpsman per 30 Marines.”

The Marine Corps didn’t like the 1 to 30 ratio, and thus was born the Combat Lifesaver Program.  Because of the increase of medically trained people on the battlefield, corpsmen are seeing their loads lightened and the Corps is seeing more lives saved.

“The course gives them an on-the-spot field medicine overview, (and) it covers cardiovascular pulmonary resuscitation, field triage, and how to deal with situations that you would encounter on the battlefield,” said Sgt. Michael Flanagan, Radio Reconnaissance Team Leader with 2nd Radio Battalion.  

The 24th MEU is embarked aboard the vessels Iwo Jima, Whidbey Island and Nashville conducting its Expeditionary Strike Group Exercise in the coastal waters of North and South Carolina and Virginia. The exercise is meant to increase the ability of the Marines and Sailors to accomplish an array of possible missions when they deploy together later this spring.