By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jose Lopez, Jr. (CTF 73 Public Affairs)
SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia – The Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training (MCAST) command took part in training medical personnel from the Royal Cambodian Navy and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Cambodia 2012. The goals of the exercise are to increase interoperability, promote understanding and build trust between the U.S. and Royal Cambodian Navies.
The medical personnel are participating in a Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE) which covers field medicine and trauma management in a non-medical setting. Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (EXW/FMF) Joseph Davies, a nine year veteran assigned to MCAST, conducted the two day training at the Ream Naval Base.
“They like all the training we bring them,” Davies said about the RCN and RCAF students. “They’re very receptive to any of the medical training we give them. This training is in a setting they normally do not encounter.”
Davies covered topics that the RCN and RCAF personnel do not face on a daily basis, like treating open wounds while under fire with limited medical equipment. Unlike their U.S. Navy counterparts, RCN ships do not have a full time independent duty corpsman aboard ship. Every time a ship goes out a new medic is assigned, making it essential that the personnel are fully trained in different styles of treatment.
“We’re teaching them how to find something that is wrong quickly,” added Davies, who’s been training Navy personnel for five years, and around the world with MCAST for the last 18 months. “To identify the wounds, take the action necessary to stabilize the patient, and then transport them to a hospital for further treatment or surgery.”
While a professional force, the RCN and RCAF have different methods to treat injured personnel. Most of the patients, medical personnel who attended the SMEE treat, are due to traffic accidents and minor injuries. The training gives them the opportunity to take on the challenges provided while under fire.
“Our techniques are different, and our instruments are completely different,” said RCAF Col. Chin Kachea (Dr.), director of the 3rd regional hospital in Kom Pong Speu province. “Saving patients for us is based on our field experience. We have to improvise with what we have. The U.S. medical teams have a set method. That is what we want to learn. That is what is useful to my team.”
The training consists of a day of classroom instruction. Here the students are exposed to the different types of trauma they could encounter via slides. Davies also had the students get familiar with the instruments available in a typical field pack.
“They have to know what they may encounter, and what they have available to treat with,” added Davies, a 27 year-old New Palestine, Ind.-native. “The next day we set up the prosthetics with blood to have them treat the patients in a war-like scenario.”
The prosthetics are useful because they can show the students possible trauma wounds they may encounter out on the field. The simulated blood adds to the realism. Davies, who joined the Navy to become a Hospital Corpsman, adds great detail and realism to simulated wounds.
“When I saw the blood it made me think that this was a real situation,” said RCN Lt. Cmdr. Ley Sarith, who is assigned to the Ream Naval Base Dispensary. “This is training I will never forget. Seeing the realism of the training makes me think that if we are involved in a real situation we will know how to react.”
The students had to find three injured personnel in the field and identify their condition. From there they move them to a covered area to stabilize the patients. The team leader radios for an ambulance to evacuate the patients.
In the simulated hospital triage area, doctors receive the patients and continue treatment as needed.
“Davies has been doing this for a while,” added Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Tadeo O’Brien, MCAST Medical Lead. “They wanted realism, he’s giving them as real as it gets.”
Based out of Dam Neck, Va., MCAST personnel are always ready to travel to different areas around the world to train local military personnel in areas they request. The better they are trained, the better they can respond when needed.
“This is one of the few jobs you can have where you can see a direct impact of your work,” concluded Davies.