FORT PICKETT, Va. — Medics from across the Virginia Army National Guard trained on a state-of-the-art, lifelike mannequin designed to realistically simulate various combat wounds during a class at the New Equipment Training and New Equipment Fielding facility April 6-7, 2019, at Fort Pickett, Virginia.
The medics were introduced to the Tactical Combat Casualty Care Exportable, or TC3X, system during the two-day class. The TC3X system is a computer-controlled mannequin that can move, bleed, breath and simulate a multitude of combat wounds, giving the user a realistic wound care experience. The system, which will live at Fort Pickett, can be checked out by trained medics and taken to the field during training exercises. It is meant to replace the old standard rubber mannequins medics have trained on for years.
“The advantages of the TC3X system is the ability to build variable wounds, instead of just the same wounds,” said John C. Matthews, a program manager for Medical Simulation Training Centers. “Soldiers were learning to work on a mannequin that had the same wounds every time. Now you can simulate different injuries so the Soldier’s not sure what they’re going to get when they get there.”
The TC3X mimics the weight and distribution of weight of a human body, and comes with the ability to simulate various combat wounds, from a bullet wound to an amputation, and can even simulate traumatic brain injuries. The system can be outfitted with male or female anatomy, and is meant to provide a realistic training experience.
“With these advanced systems, it shows you what you need to do, how you need to do it, and it’s more anatomically correct, especially with the weight,” said Spc. Kaitlin Holmes, a medic with the Manassas-based 229th Military Police Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group. “It shows Soldiers how much effort goes in to saving somebody’s life. You can’t just verbalize it.”
“It’s beneficial to be hands-on with a patient who is actually bleeding,” agreed Staff Sgt. David Samuel, with the Virginia Army National Guard Medical Command. “It’s being able to plug a hole that’s actively bleeding at the appropriate rate, instead of simulating it on a rubber patient that isn’t bleeding.”
The TC3X is also designed to be durable, so units checking it out for training can take it to the field and use it in a combat scenario.
“They’re very rugged,” said Matthews. “We’ve done tests with it where we’ve dragged it across a football field and back. It can be taken into a helicopter, it can be put in a vehicle. Now the Soldiers can actually take it to an airfield or out into the field.”
As part of the class, the medics not only learned how to operate and treat the TC3X, but they also learned how to train non-medic Soldiers to use and treat the system during a training exercise.
“This is a train-the-trainer course. It’s not like we’re just coming to a class and learning, then doing it. We’re actually learning to train other people,” said Holmes. “It’s basically a snowball effect. We’re learning and then we’re teaching other people so then they can teach other people. We can divulge out to our specific units and use this knowledge to train our troops.”
“The nearest guy may not be a medic, but they all have their individual field first aid kit, and so they all should be able to know what to do,” said Matthews. “Everybody bleeds. Whoever is standing next to you becomes the medic just like that.”
Whether it’s the Guard’s medics or Soldiers out in the field learning basic combat first aid, the TC3X’s ability to so realistically mimic a wounded Soldier is its greatest strength, according to the medics who took the class.
“With medical training, just explaining it and actually doing hands-on are completely different,” said Holmes. “Even with just a “Rescue Randy,” mannequins that don’t move or bleed, it’s very hard to get the feel of an actual human and actual simulation of bleeding.”
Any VNG unit with a Soldier trained on the TC3X system will be able to check it out for training at Fort Pickett Training Aids Center. Once they do, they’ll have the ability to go beyond basic field first aid training and implement multiple levels of care.
“It’s beneficial to the whole unit,” said Samuel. “The command could put a scenario in, a shot Soldier. Currently they just train the medic to treat the patient, and then everything stops after that. With this, if they do it properly, they should be able to go from point of injury to transporting the patient back to whatever their next level of care is. They could even add in aviation if they set up the training properly.”