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Home : News : News
NEWS | July 21, 2023

MEDCoE instructors, drill sergeants give cadets a glimpse of Army life

By Erin Perez U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence

Instructors, drill sergeants and newly graduated combat medics recently spent the day with 200 Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from San Antonio’s North East Independent School District at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis.

On the last day of their week-long JROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge, NEISD cadets participated in four different training events set up by the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence drill sergeants and instructors who work in the field training environment at JBSA-Camp Bullis. Under the supervision of their JROTC instructors, students rotated between a modified Army Combat Fitness session, an aid station, prolonged field care training and a litter obstacle course.

“Events like this are so important; in fact, the entire JCLC is important for cadets that are moving into leadership roles in the next school year,” Maj. Jamelle Garner, senior Army instructor at Theodore Roosevelt High School explained. “It builds their confidence and gives them an opportunity to assume leadership roles, so when they go into the school year, they are able to effectively run their individual, independent JROTC battalions.”

Modified ACFT

Cadets were taken through a stretching and warm-up routine, and then participated in the standing power throw, hand release pushup, and deadlift portions of the ACFT. Drill sergeants walked the students through each exercise and provided encouragement and motivation. They also gave students a chance to practice facing movements, march in place and respond to the drill sergeants’ cadence calls.

Aid Station

Upon arriving at the aid station area, the instructors taught the students the basic principles of carrying a litter, principles of battlefield triage, how to approach the aid station triage medic to give a patient report, and how to use materials at hand to tie a makeshift tourniquet.

Prolonged Field Care

Cadets received Stop The Bleed training from Soldiers with the Brigade Combat Team Trauma Training, a mobile training team who travels to units across the Army to provide advanced training to combat medics.

Stop The Bleed training teaches anyone how to assess and manage bleeding in the case of accident or injury, and it also provides hands-on training through the use of training mannequins. Students learned how to properly use and apply a tourniquet, how to pack and apply pressure to a wound, and how to maintain that treatment until first responders arrive.

Modified Litter Obstacle Course

During the obstacle course, cadets in teams of four practiced transporting a patient through different simulated adverse conditions. They learned how to load and unload a litter into a helicopter, how to low crawl beneath barbed wire, travel up and down stairs and over a “bridge” while carrying a patient on a stretcher.

Recent graduates of the 68W Combat Medic Specialty Program Training led the cadets through the different tasks safely and demonstrated the obstacles that were omitted from the modified course.

Tiergan Smith, JROTC Battalion executive officer at Canyon Lake High School, enjoyed meeting cadets from different schools and learning from instructors who teach the combat medics currently serving in the U.S. Army.

“We went to a medical side of the base where they train the combat medics,” Smith said, “and just knowing that a lot of the combat medics who go into the military went through there makes it really special for us and makes me really value the fact that they brought us here.”

During downtime between events, cadets asked questions about Army life and what it’s like to be a Soldier in a medical specialty field; recruiters from the San Antonio Recruiting Battalion were on hand to handle any questions about other professions in the Army.

“I received many questions from students as to why I chose the Army and why I like the Army so much,” Staff Sgt. Fatima Heredia, Rolling Oaks Recruiting Station commander, said. “Honestly, the Army is a great foundation that has provided me a lot of opportunities and growth. It has paid for my schooling, I have a bachelor’s degree with no debt, and it has paid for my IT certifications such as Security Plus, Network Plus and Cisco Cert.”

On average, MEDCoE trains more than 30,000 students every year in 192 health-related programs of instruction, including all the Army’s medical professionals.

Sgt. 1st Class John P. Bell, from MEDCoE, who was integral to the planning and preparation of the day, sees the value of outreach opportunities like this.

“Events like Army Day are important because it affords us the opportunity to showcase the industry-leading training we develop and conduct at the Medical Center of Excellence among the various branches within the U.S. Army Medical Department. We can speak with expertise on the tactical and technical subjects of each medical career field and highlight the benefits that Army Medicine provides across the world,” Bell explained.

Bell hopes it can become an annual event and a lasting partnership with local schools and NEISD.

“I am especially grateful to retired Col. William LaChance and the NEISD JROTC for giving MEDCoE the opportunity to demonstrate what Army Medicine is — beyond what people remember from movies and television — where we can provide interactive and practical exercises for cadets to participate and expand their understanding of the medical field and the U.S. Army as a whole.”