CLB-24 learns to control the chaos

1 Oct 2007 | Lance Cpl. Alex C. Guerra

Marines and Navy Corpsmen dash from CH-46E Helicopters into a golden field amid confusion and chaos as they tend to simulated casualties during a mass casualty exercise here.

They’re part of the Combat Logistic Battalion 24 mass casualty team, a group serving as the emergency care responders for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The teams's purpose is to react to any scenario in which casualties outnumber the corpsmen available.

Special Operations Training Group prepared 13 role-players with prosthetic injuries, make-up and artificial blood, to test the corpsmen’s medical knowledge and meddle in a frantic situation.

“In a mass casualty operation, there is mass chaos,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Frederick Carr, instructor, SOTG, II Marine Expeditionary Force. “You can’t control chaos, you can only minimize it.”

An Immediate Response Team arrives first and quickly establishes security. Simultaneously, they account for and stabilize the wounded until the corpsmen arrive and assess each injury.

“Out here they have to show their skills,” said Carr. “They need to know how to execute this operation systematically; properly assessing victims and preparing them for transport.”

In this scenario, the corpsmen identified injuries and assessed the extent of the injury to place a priority of care for each victim. This forced corpsmen to maintain communication with their Marines to advance each victim to a casualty collection point, all while battling the shriek of pain from their patients.

“We keep putting pressure on them to prepare for real world situations” said Carr. “The corpsmen need to keep control of the situation and their Marines, while not failing under pressure.”

Several Marines are also part of the mass casualty team and train alongside the corpsmen to see how they fit into this scenario, said Capt. John P. Skutch, operations officer, CLB-24.

The exercise, a first time experience for most of the members, succeeded in achieving the collective duty.

“Communication is key for this operation,” said Chief Petty Officer Mark Urrutic, lead medical chief, CLB-24. “We all came from different walks of life, doing different jobs at base, but it was almost seamless how we came together.”