Any army is trained to kill. But the US military says it would teach its soldiers some basic instructions in saving life. No it is not turning pacifist, certainly not under George W.Bush. Simply such basic training could help them provide the much needed critical medical care on the battlefield. That could save the army some lives after all.
Officials said medical care given immediately after injuries like gunshot wounds and those caused by improvised explosive devices could mean the difference between life and death. Simple lifesaving techniques could cut down on long-term injuries and deaths, they said.
"The most critical 10 minutes in a soldier's care in combat is the first 10 minutes," said Col. Kevin A. Shwedo, director of operations, plans and training for the Army Accessions Command, which oversees training. "We've focused on the skills that would give us the greatest opportunity to evacuate an individual to a higher degree of health care."
Previously, a limited number of soldiers in each unit were trained on advanced lifesaving procedures and most soldiers only received basic first aid techniques, like bandaging and performing Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), an emergency first aid for victims of cardiac arrest.
"You won't have to wait as long to find the one combat lifesaver you had trained," said Shwedo, whose command is based at Fort Monroe in Hampton. More in-depth medical training can make the difference between bringing back a patient and bringing back a corpse, said Col. Patricia R. Hastings, director of the Army's Department of Combat Medic Training based at Fort Sam Houston in Texas.
"First aid is just not good enough anymore," she said. Soldiers at Fort Sill in Oklahoma and Fort Knox in Kentucky already have begun the training. Col. Annie Baker, commander of 434th Field Artillery Brigade at Fort Sill, said after only 10 days at basic training, soldiers there started the combat lifesaver certification course, which includes learning to administer drugs intravenously.
"We're used to getting shot at and people getting hurt," said the 29-year-old from Arlington, S.D. "With more of us knowing how to help our buddies, maybe it will make for a more successful outcome."
The new skill training is comprised of about one week of the soldiers' nine-week training program, and follows only rifle marksmanship and physical training in the time devoted to it.