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NEWS | Nov. 2, 2016

New course enhances warrior paramedics’ prehospital, tactical skills

59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

“Get cover! Return fire! Post security.” Most paramedics never need to be familiar with this terminology. For military medics, however, the lingo is part of a life that transcends the typical role of their civilian counterparts.

And the 59th Medical Wing is leading the way to ensure these warrior medics are prepared.

Students from multiple bases across the country came here and underwent the first revamped Paramedic Recertification Course, Sept. 12-20.

The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians released new guidelines that go into effect April 2017. The wing has already started incorporating theses new guidelines into their training programs.

Students underwent five days of didactic classroom instruction with a few hours of hands-on-training in the 59th MDW Simulation Center each day and two days of field exercises. Training ranged from isolated skills and scenarios, airway management, cardiology rhythm interpretation, and even an obstetrician/gynecology emergency case.

“We already started teaching the new curriculum,” said Tech. Sgt. Richard Carvajal, 59th MDW Emergency Medical Technician program coordinator. “My focus with the refresher is to focus on the battlefield-type injuries that they’ll encounter when they go downrange.”

The revamped course incorporates more prehospital trauma life support skills and tactical casualty combat care. Carvajal described how the new course may benefit medics with different levels of experience.

“Very few bases have a robust emergency medical service system,” he said. “So you may get people from other bases who do not have much prehospital experience, but they can still apply a lot of the skills and training for when they deploy downrange.

The old refresher focused too much on remembering skills sheets and things that might not be as pertinent as military medics,” he continued. “Whether in a prehospital setting or deployed, you are going to work as team. In addition to the new guidelines we geared the training towards a team concept versus each individual being evaluated for specific skills.”

Tech. Sgt. Angel Urgilez, student and paramedic from Hurlburt Field, Fla., was previously stationed at Wilford Hall from 2002 to 2007 explained how much the course has changed and progressed.

“Previously, the course crammed all this information primarily teaching through PowerPoint and then you take test,” said Urgilez. “Then once you got back to your work section, you would ask yourself ‘What did I learn?’”

Urgilez is assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Command, where most of the training consists of trauma cases.

“We do get medical calls too, but it’s not to the capacity where you get really comfortable in those situations,” he said. “Coming here we had the opportunity to share stories and learning from each other.

Urgilez was teamed up with two medics from the busiest emergency medical service unit in the Department of Defense—the 59th MDW.

“You find out where you’re strong and go with it,” said Urgilez. “For example, I was the team lead during the deployment exercises. Being the only one from team who’s deployed, I had the most experience with that setting. But during one of the medical scenario and I told another teammate ‘you’ve done this before. You run this one.’”

Sharing experiences and relying on their training to adapt in any scenario was the goal of the new training. The 59th MDW anticipates hosting more courses with the new curriculum later this year.