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Fort Bragg Medics Train Under Combat Conditions

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FAYETTEVILLE — A primary concern about the use of ground troops in Kosovo is casualties. Army medical units in Vietnam and Desert Storm learned a lot about saving lives.

Wednesday at Fort Bragg, 300 soldiers from seven medical units tested their skills. An exercise with a lot of mock casualties allowed medical units to get a feel of medical treatment under combat conditions.

Fort Bragg medical units planned for Operation Spearhead Medic for four months, but the Bragg soldiers in a transportation unit did not know they would be wounded in a mock battle.

"They were addressed this morning by Op-4, and these soldiers have taken small arms fire, fragmentary wounds and mortar fire," says Cpt. Walt Stanish with the 55th medical group.

With lessons learned from Vietnam, their comrades gave immediate care, and then they had to be taken to a secured location. Backs strain as litters are lifted and move out.

The key to survival on the battlefield for a wounded soldier is getting him or her to medical attention as soon as possible. That is the reason the litter bearers have to quickly carry the wounded to helicopters.

"We know that speed is the essence, quick treatment, quick evacuation to a hospital or a medical care center that can take care of the injuries," says Master Sgt. Thomas Dowell with the 55th medical group.

Bragg's medical units get to train in these conditions once a year. The evacuation exercise is particularly important.

"What this does is prepare us if we ever do get called for something like Kosovo, we're already trained on how to use the equipment," Stanish said.

With casualties loaded, the big choppers headed for a combat field hospital where the wounded would get more treatment. Mission accomplished.

The 11-day exercise will include training by elements from other Army medical installations around the country.

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Tom Lawrence, Reporter
Mark Copeland, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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