Local News

Special Ops Medics Get Specialized Training

Posted October 23, 2007 4:58 p.m. EDT
Updated October 23, 2007 7:18 p.m. EDT

— Special Operations medics received intensive training Tuesday to help save lives on the battlefield.

More than 27,000 U.S. troops have been wounded or injured in Iraq since the beginning of hostilities through August, officials said.

"Failure is not an option, because somebody could die if we don't do our job," said Sgt. Pete Diaz, a Special Operations medic who took part in an exercise to learn how to handle mass casualties in war.

The training included a simulated explosion in a marketplace, with dozens of troops lying wounded and bleeding in the streets and in buildings. Medics must stop the bleeding, get soldiers stabilized and quickly move them to safety.

Fort Bragg offers medics a six-month course at the Special Warfare Training Center. The program was created in 1962 because the unique missions of Special Operations troops demanded unique training for their medics.

"They're often put in situations where they don't have the supply, equipment or personnel, and they're told to improvise and, 'Operator, you got what you got, make it happen,'" Capt. Jamie Riesberg said.

In 2001, the Special Operations community had 77 percent of the medics it needed, but the medic force is now at 103 percent, officials said.

Medics said each life they save makes the difficulty of the job worthwhile.

"It's the noblest job I can think of. To save someone in their worst point in life, to be able to stop that Grim Reaper from catching you and say, ' No, not today, buddy. He's staying here,'" Diaz said.