Face to face with PTSD

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.


One Response to “Face to face with PTSD”

  1. Jen weaver Says:

    I’m so proud of you Justin!!! I knew you would pass with flying colors! You are so talented in so many areas. If I was going to war you’re who I would want beside me. I love you so very much! Keep up the good work! Always Jen

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