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International medics tackle Tactical Combat Casualty Care

Air Force students provide cover while pulling a ‘wounded’ training mannequin out of simulated line-of-fire during the Tactical Combat Casualty Care course at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Battlefield simulation drills are vital to provide medics and combat personnel with realistic situations where they provide life-saving care and evacuation of wounded. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Lackey) Air Force students provide cover while pulling a ‘wounded’ training mannequin out of simulated line-of-fire during the Tactical Combat Casualty Care course at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Battlefield simulation drills are vital to provide medics and combat personnel with realistic situations where they provide life-saving care and evacuation of wounded. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

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FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. — Nearly two hundred medics from the Air Force and Army, as well as partner countries Australia, New Zealand and Canada, underwent Tactical Combat Casualty Care training recently during Exercise Mobility Guardian 2019.

TCCC has become the new standard of medical training proficiency for military personnel, which is set to replace Self Aid Buddy Care training, to prepare them for potential combat situations in an ongoing effort to heighten medical readiness.

Students included non-medics, medical providers and TCCC instructor trainees. Instructor trainees, including two from the 92nd Medical Group, underwent certification evaluations to grant them the ability to continue TCCC training of personnel at their home locations.

“It was an awesome opportunity to work with our sister services and allied forces medics,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. James Pennington, 336th Training Group independent duty medical technician and TCCC instructor. “We were able to facilitate such a large and diverse training due to everyone already being here for the Mobility Guardian 2019 exercise, allowing us to add to the deployment readiness of everyone.”

The TCCC training is an intensive two-day immersion on stabilizing trauma victims from common battlefield injuries such as hemorrhage, airway obstruction and shock.

Royal Australian Air Force Flight Lt. Michelle Polgar, RAAF medic, applied a wound-dressing to a hemorrhage simulation training mannequin during the Tactical Combat Casualty Care course at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. TCCC is designed to help lessen preventable combat deaths by providing proven trauma stabilization techniques, allowing for wounded to survive long enough to receive life-saving treatment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)
Royal Australian Air Force Flight Lt. Michelle Polgar, RAAF medic, applied a wound-dressing to a hemorrhage simulation training mannequin during the Tactical Combat Casualty Care course at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. TCCC is designed to help lessen preventable combat deaths by providing proven trauma stabilization techniques, allowing for wounded to survive long enough to receive life-saving treatment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

"It’s been proven that the likelihood of survival in tactical or combat situations improves with more people having this training,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Brooke McKee, Air Mobility Command aircrew aeromedical evacuation and TCCC instructor. “This is an advanced first-aid training that comes in three phases: Care Under-Fire, Tactical Field Care and Tactical Evacuation.”

‘Care Under-Fire’ is responding to somebody being shot or otherwise wounded and checking their condition. ‘Tactical Field Care’ is the application of stabilizing medical care to stop bleeding or keep a patient breathing. Lastly, the ‘Tactical Evacuation’ is getting wounded patients to a safer area or hospital where advanced treatment can be applied, McKee said.

TCCC training has four levels of qualification: All Service Members (Tier 1), Combat Lifesaver (Tier 2), Combat Medic (Tier 3) and Combat Paramedic (Tier 4). Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg recently mandated that qualified medical providers complete TCCC Emergency Medical Technician training (Tier 4) within 18 months of its initial release this year, with training (Tiers 1-3) for all other personnel.

"There are two courses, the combatant course and the medical provider course,” Mckee said. “The medical provider course is advanced training for medics, nurses, doctors … anybody that holds a medical license. The combatant course is for everybody else; it’s geared toward basic stabilizing techniques to treat the wounded, or even yourself, if necessary until a medic arrives.”

Classroom training is a significant part of the course, but the final hurdle is stress-testing students under imitation battlefield conditions, complete with wounded and simulated weapons fire by enemy combatants.

"It’s important that we develop our medics and troops to do this for real and not just fill them with classroom knowledge,” said Air Force Maj. Brian Bolton, TCCC training lead. “We need people field-ready. This training is crucial and working with other services and allies like this helps make connections that will speed integration during joint field operations.”

Mobility Airmen train like we fight as a Total Force alongside our joint and international partners. This teamwork improves longstanding partnerships and makes us a stronger fighting force. This latest push for TCCC training will add to the readiness and battlefield capability of U.S. and allied partner forces across the world.

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