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NEWS | Feb. 7, 2023

VNG medics tackle 68W sustainment training

By Mike Vrabel | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

The Fort Pickett-based Virginia Army National Guard Medical Command hosted combat medics from across the state for 68W sustainment training Jan. 22-28, 2023, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. 

The course, typically held twice annually, incorporates classroom and practical training as well as evaluated simulated care in both medical and trauma-related scenarios. The sustainment course is necessary for the VNG’s combat medics to retain their 68W military occupational specialty, and must be completed every two years. 

“The course makes sure medics are up to date with current Army Medical practices,” explained Medical Command’s Sgt. 1st Class Dan Noel, the course coordinator. “This course also verifies that medics are competent in their skills for both trauma and medical scenarios.”

“It went over a lot of the basics that you don’t really deal with too much, especially as a headquarters medic,” said Spc. Uiguria Kutlan, a medic assigned to the Fredericksburg-based 229th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “You get a lot of sick call patients with ouchies and boo-boos, but we don’t have too many traumatic casualties, so it’s been a great refresher.”

For official recertification, 68W Soldiers must successfully complete two medical and two trauma scenarios. The trauma scenarios are made realistic with the use of the Tactical Combat Casualty Care Exportable kit, or TC3X. The TC3X is a realistic, animatronic simulated trauma patient remotely operated by an instructor, capable of bleeding, breathing and moving and providing the medic a realistic treatment experience. For this course, the TC3X simulated a full amputation in one scenario and a sucking chest wound in the other, forcing the medics to recall their training for these complicated scenarios. 

The use of lifelike simulated patients helps keeps students engaged with the training, according to Noel. 

“Instructors give the students didactic lessons but the most valuable is when the students get to practice their hands-on skills that they may not have used frequently,” said Noel. “The use of advanced mannequins that can bleed, stop breathing, and thrash around has greatly helped with this training.”

Thirty students completed the training during the January course, learning not only from instructors, but each other as well. 

“Medical Command’s hope is that students will walk away having learned something form the course and share that information with other medics in their unit,” said Noel. “There are also many Soldiers that practice EMT on the civilian side and by networking, medics can also learn skills from their peers.”

Part of that learning involves staying up to date with the latest advancements in the medical industry. 

“I think this course is important because every year, every day, things update. There’s new medical technology being invented,” said Kutlan. “I think it’s really good to have these courses every once in a while.”

That continued learning and staying current in their training is vital for the organization and for any patient the medics encounter in the future. 

“Medics take their training seriously. They want to know how to do their job effectively so that they can help their fellow Soldiers if the need arises,” said Noel. “The field of medicine is constantly changing. That’s why it is important for medics to receive updated training so that they are knowledgeable about the most current medical practices.  

“Simply put, they save lives. A medic is the first echelon of care in an accident, trauma, or medical scene,” Noel added. “The medic must think quickly as to who needs treatment first, what needs to be done, and how we can safely transport a patient out of the hostile environment. Medics learn CPR and other life saving techniques that can be used not just in a battle situation but also in training scenarios.”

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