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31st MEU Corpsmen practice tactical medicine with Philippine service members

20 Oct 2011 | Sgt. Paul Robbins Jr.

Combat medicine is a continually advancing field, requiring constant training to maintain a high level of proficiency on the battlefield. While operating in the Philippine Islands, U.S. Navy corpsmen train with local military forces to increase the proficiency of their Philippine counterparts.

Service members of the Philippine Navy and Marine Corps joined Navy corpsmen of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to practice specialized training in tactical field care at Philippine Naval Forces West in Palawan, Oct. 18.

The MEU corpsmen provided instruction in shock assessment, inserting IV’s, surgical procedure to open the airway and numerous other combat life saving techniques.

Some of the procedures were new to the service members, while others served as a refresher to their already existing medical skills.

“This course provides us with medical techniques they can use on the front lines, as well as boosting confidence in the medical knowledge we already have,” said Hospitalman 2nd Class Crystal Straub, hospital corpsman with the Medical Simulation Center, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

The class of approximately 70 service members included corpsmen from the Philippine Navy, reconnaissance Marines from the Philippine Marine Corps, and special operations Marines from the Philippine Marine Corps.

The service members received instruction in a classroom setting, followed by practical application of all procedures. Non-harmful procedures like IV insertion were conducted on counterpart service members, while the surgical procedures were conducted on a life-like dummy patient simulator.

As a culmination exercise, the corpsmen of the 31st MEU used volunteers, make-up, and fake blood to provide a mass casualty exercise to provide a realistic setting to test their skills.

“This training was good for us,” said Cpl. Orlie Concha, rifleman for the special operations platoon, Philippine Marine Corps. “The training prepares us for combat, helping us stay focused on the job of properly treating a casualty.”

The training benefited all who attended, providing a deeper understanding of their allies’ culture and how they each conduct combat medicine and operations.

“For a lot of the corpsmen, this was their first time experiencing bilateral training with foreign forces,” said Chief Petty Officer Edmond Reyes, independent duty corpsman with the 31st MEU. “So, this is a learning experience for everyone.  This training improves interoperability of our forces and increases readiness of our units.”

The 31st MEU is currently serving in support of III Marine Expeditionary Brigade for the exercise and remains the United States’ force in readiness for the Asia-Pacific region.

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit