Archive for April, 2009

HMMWV — High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle

Posted in Combat Skills Training on April 29, 2009 by jetgwot

Up-armored HMMWVI realized on my last post that I spelled HMMWV (Humvee) wrong. I know you are all disappointed and I probably lost at least 20 percent of my readership; which means I’m down to 8 dedicated fans. Oh well. So today was less humid but twice as boring. The Army is good at what they do on the battlefield. Where they lack is the length of training they offer before you actually get there. But, considering some of the Soldiers I’ve met the past week, I can see why the training needs to be as long and dry as it is.

This morning we were bussed to  a classroom where 35 Air Force personnel and 55 Army Soldiers sat through another death by powerpoint on the mechanics of an up-armored HMMWV. What could have taken no more than an hour, lasted through the afternoon. We literally took 15 min breaks every 20 minutes. Awful! An hour before we finished up, we got to go outside and put hands on the HMMWV (hummer) and see the mechanics of it. We also got to perform vehicle checks before, during and after driving it. Just don’t let anyone fool you with the, “did you grab the keys?” A little known fact is that the HMMWV doesn’t have keys. The engine is started by turning a switch. Pretty basic. That hands on killed the last hour of the day and we gladly proceeded back to our barracks.

Now, as much as I hated today, it was well worth it for the upcoming days. Tomorrow, we get to get flipped over in a HMMWV training facility to learn how to evacuate in the case of a rollover. After that, we’ll be going out on a range to test out these new up-armored HMMWVs. Now, compared to the MRAP I saw yesterday, this thing is like an eggshell. But, it’s a step in the right direction. I know what I’m calling shotgun in once I get to the desert.

Lastly, I’d like to leave you with one thought. We get out of bed each morning in our comfortable homes, we eat a nice breakfast,  we go to work, take care of our children or enjoy a nice relaxing day. None of which are easy — especially taking care of some people’s children. Since the war began in Iraq, which has now shifted to Afghanistan, more than 4,000 military members have been killed making the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I’d like to think whatever we have going on isn’t nearly as bad as what the families of those servicemembers are going through since this war began.

Don’t take for granted what you have, and what you’ve been given. No one deploys to fight this war thinking they might be coming back to a 21-gun salute.

Radio, this is radio, over

Posted in Combat Skills Training with tags , , , , on April 28, 2009 by jetgwot

It’s hot here in New Jersey. I realized that when I woke up at 2 a.m. soaked in sweat. Get this, the Army put in air conditioners in each room, but the cords don’t reach the plugs. They are these special plugs and they don’t expect to fix it anytime soon. Go figure. Anyway, there’s worse things to complain about, so let’s press on.

Today we had SINGARs and MRAP training. First off, SINGARs means single channel ground and air radio, or something close to that. Basically, it’s the radio used by ground troops in combat or training missions. We learned how to add frequencies, create a “Secure” channel and broadcast on various NET channel IDs. Kind of technical, but very well taught.

From there, we broke for lunch and then went to MRAP training — Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. Talk about a crazy vehicle. This is what every military member driving in Iraq or Afghanistan needs to be in. It was suprising to find out that the design and concept of this vehicle originated in South Africa. The MRAP can withstand up to 500lb bombs and still be left intact. Since the Marines began using it less than a year ago, the vehicles have been hit by more than 300 Improvised Explosive devices and no one was killed. The key to the vehicle is it’s V-shaped hull and additional armor. After two hours of death by powerpoint, we got to actually climb into the vehicle and see this beast. A beast weighing in at 52,000 pounds, five miles to the gallon, and is over 14 feet tall. If I had my choice, I’d live my whole deployment in one of these mobile lifesavers.

Tomorrow, we begin a four-day long HUMVEE training class to include using Night Vision Goggles at night to traverse a course. Pretty cool. Hopefully the heat lets up, but in a way, this helps me get acclimated to the desert heat I’ll be subjected to throughout the summer.

Check this out

Check this out

Face to face with PTSD

Posted in Combat Skills Training with tags , , , , on April 27, 2009 by jetgwot

Today was our fourth and final day of the Combat Life Saver medical course. Yesterday, we had a written test and a hands on testing portion. I passed with flying colors. Red, yellow and blue to be specific. Anyway, today we took everything we’ve learned over the past three days and applied it in a very stressful simulated battle environment. We were divided into groups and then were told that we would be advancing on the battle field.

A sharp siren meant we were under direct fire and we would drop to the ground and return fire. A wailing siren meant a mortar attack and we would once again kiss the ground with our hands over our neck. Until we learn to shoot mortars out of the sky, our best bet is to hope the insurgents aim is really bad.

Once we arrived at the battle field, we encountered five casualties with various wounds — from bullet wounds in the chest, to amputated arms and legs. Keep in mind this was all simulated with moulaged plastic. When under direct enemy fire, the only thing you do for a patient is throw a tourniquet on to control the bleeding and then drag, carry or walk the casualty away from the fire fight. We were group one and just as a head’s up — do not volunteer for group one. You will be made an example of. You will be yelled at, shot at and given obstacles they don’t expect you to overcome. Mainly, they want you to feel the stress of battle and how to remain calm and treat the patients while shooting back at the enemy.

This all leads into my encounter with PTSD. As we were treating patients in the 92F heat, I spotted two of our team get shot by someone else on our team. This person was acting as if he had gone crazy on the battlefield and was treating everyone as the enemy. As I approached, I pulled my M9 and “simulated” shooting him dead. The downside to shooting him dead was that he weighed at least 300 pounds, (The Army has some big boys) but despite his weight, we never leave anyone behind.

We then proceeded to try and drag his dead weight off the battle field. Talk about exhausting. Finally, I grabbed him under his knees and two other guys got his shoulders and we started to walk him off. Well, the pistol of our “dead casualty” fell out of his pocket as we carried him and he started freaking out. This was no longer a simulated freaking out. He was yelling, “Give me my pistol, give me my pistol,” as he struggled to break free from our hold as we carried him out. We kept telling him to play dead and someone else picked up his pistol, but he continued to freak out, yelling, “I’m infantry, give me my pistol, give me my pistol.” Thankfully we had no ammo in the weapons.

As soon as we set him down, he came charging right at me, but two instructors quickly stepped in and he was taken back into the building. From what I understand, he suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and for whatever reason, it caused him to freak out. PTSD is triggered from extreme events, such as military combat. It’s only just come out the past couple years as a serious disabling disorder.

Here is a link to an article discussing the need to test military members before they go down range and when they get back for up to two years. Hopefully, this bill will help better address what so many military folks are dealing with. http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_12216918

All in all, the training we received today was excellent. This afternoon we helped triage a building full of bomb victims and then learned how to properly categorize patients according to their injuries. The best part of the day had to be receiving our graduate certificates for the 40-hour CLS course.

Day 2 and the IV

Posted in Combat Skills Training on April 26, 2009 by jetgwot

Well, yesterday was day two of four of the Combat Life Saver Course and it was by far the most interesting. What? Why you ask? Let me tell you.

The day began with us gearing up in full combat gear (as if we won’t be wearing it for months in the desert!) and heading to the CLS site. Once there, we were able to drop our armor and helmets, but we kept our weapons on hand. Mainly, I think, in case a groundhog accidentally came into the classroom we could shoot him up for dinner. Pressing on, we learned how to properly administer an IV and then got to practice on a dummy arm. Hands were definitely shaking — just not mine. Strangely I was quite calm with giving and receiving an IV.

After lunch we learned various methods of litter carrys to transport casualties and then we got to the fun part — IV insertion. My battle buddy, a 24-year veteran Master Sergeant, had given an IV more than 20 years ago. I was hoping he had retained some of that knowledge as he delicately pierced my arm and inserted the catheter into my vein. He did surprisingly well. Although he forgot to put enough pressure above the catheter when he pulled the needle out and a nice puddle of blood oozed out. And, by oozed I mean shot out all over the floor. Anyway, my turn was next. I kept two things in mind as I advanced the needle toward the victim, I mean my battle buddy, “I won’t feel any pain and nothing I will do will hurt me.” Great advice from our instructor.

To my shock, I seem to have a knack for IVs. I was able to find his vein and had the IV running in less than two minutes. My battle buddy breathed an obvious sigh of relief when he realized how smooth it went. Especially when across the room you could see other victims on their second and third attempt at sticking each other. I’ve attached a couple pictures of the IV fun.

I can’t stress how great this class is.The war we fight overseas is dangerous and people die because we aren’t properly trained to handle these types of situations. I have to give kudos to the Air Force for mandating 100 percent Air Force personnel deploying with the Army to have this training — They want us to come back alive. The Army only mandates 30 percent from what I understand. Which branch would you prefer?

What do you think?

Posted in Combat Skills Training on April 25, 2009 by jetgwot

Combat Life Saver

Posted in Combat Skills Training on April 23, 2009 by jetgwot

April 23

Today was the beginning of our four-day Combat Life Saver Course. What is Combat LIfe Saver you ask? Well, basically, this certifies us to provide emergency medical care while deployed. In case a medic isn’t available, we will have the knowledge to at least help prolong the life of a victim. Although the pictures our disturbing, the actual class knowledge should prove invaluable if, God forbid, we ever need to use it.

Today we learned how to apply a tourniquet, dressings, nasal and mouth tubes and how to properly do a Pneumothorax needle decompression. Basically, if you had a deflated lung, I am now trained to stab a needle in your chest to release the air building up. We then got to practice on mannequins, which helped us refine our new medical knowledge. Tomorrow we will be learning how to give IVs and the best part — we each have to give an IV to our battle buddy. (Battle Buddies are Soldiers/Airmen who look out for each other while deployed. We each have a battle buddy here– Awesome) I think I’ll let my battle buddy stick me first so if he messes up I can repay the favor.

I have a couple photos that I’ll load tomorrow from our Combat Course. I’ll add one of the IVs as well! That should be good fun.

Oh, we can only wear our uniform or PT (physical training) gear while we are here. It makes it pretty easy to decide what I’m wearing each day and evening. Also we are restricted to the base for the whole month.

Oh well, it’s good training … I just wish it was on an Air Force Base.

Cool Gear Day

Posted in Combat Skills Training on April 21, 2009 by jetgwot

April 21
Up at 5:30 a.m. today in order to be ready for what I call, “Get really cool gear day!” We received most of our body armor, helmet, M4 magazine pouches, Camelpak, Gerber multi-tool, Rucksack, small backpack, awesome gloves and sunglasses that can withstand shotgun shots. Now that’s awesome!!  Visually, I look the part of a combat warrior. We’ll see over the next month if I can actually pull it off.

The weather here is a bit rainy, but it’s warming up and it should help prepare me for the 100 plus desert temps in Afghanistan. I’ll try and take some photos tomorrow. For whatever reason they have razor wire wrapped around all of the buildings with only a small path to exit out of. I’m not quite sure what purpose it serves except maybe to keep people off the grass. Seems to me a sign stating “Stay off the grass” would have served just fine.