Friday, August 16, 2013

I'm a Combat Life Saver

Leora says she didn’t have a busy week.  With another rabbi arriving on island and shuttling her around from place to place, I can imagine she was incredibly busy.  But she tells me that she has nothing to talk about, so I will give her the benefit of the doubt.  I post again, because my week was crazy.

For the past week and a half – while Rabbi Yonina Creditor arrived and while I was on-call as Island Duty Chaplain – I have been in a course called PTP.  I’m pretty sure that the acronym is Pre-Deployment Training Protocol; I’m not sure that’s correct, but I know the idea is spot on.  My RP and I are deploying to Afghanistan in the coming days/weeks/months (I’m trying to be OPSEC – Operational Security - smart, see above), so we’re getting the sped-up version of what Individual Augments get for their AFG deployments.

Much of it does not apply to me personally.  While I’m an officer in the Navy, the chances of me setting up a check-point on a highway are pretty remote and the chances that I patrol for IEDs is even more remote.  But now I know how to do so AND I have a better idea of what my Marines are training to do.

One thing that sticks out however is the Combat Life Saver course.  I think it takes a really special group of Hospital Corpsman to put this course together; people who really want to save lives but also watch too many gory movies.  Whoa, there was a lot of fake blood.

Throw out the ABCs from First Aid.  In CLS, we use a new acronym (it is the Navy afterall). 

Remember CPR?  Forget it, you don’t have time for that.

In three days, we learned how to insert IVs.  I caused a Major to go into shock (it seems he doesn’t like needles).  We applied tourniquets, dragged each other and carried each other and found out we could stop chest bleeding using a used MRE bag and tape (Take that Dr. Hank Lawson and your McGuiver-esque practice of medicine on USA). 

I learned a new term and that was fun: Tension Pneumothorax.  One treatment according to Wikipedia, “This involves the administration of local anesthetic and inserting a needle connected to a three-way tap; up to 2.5 liters of air (in adults) are removed.”  Treatment according to the Corpsman, “Take the needle, find the second intercostal space, and bam.  He’ll be thanking you for stabbing him.”  Good people, those corpsman.

On the final day, they threw us in a room that was more a warzone than a general training op.  Marines covered in fake blood, mannequin parts strewn all over the floor, and mannequins with heart beats spurting out blood all over their rescuers.  Lights were flashing and the sound effect guys were doing some incredible work; the fog machines were on full blast.  It was insanity times insanity. 

As a squad, we got in there and saved the lives of two mannequins.  We got them safely to our Casualty Collection Point and called in the helicopters.   (Unfortunately for us, in the fog of war, we chose a gasoline station as our collection point; maybe not the best decision.)   It. was. awesome.

Am I ready to go?  Mostly.  I am certified in CLS and I’ve completed my PTP.  I still have a major pile of Administrative work that needs to be done and actual chaplaincy work that I need to spend some time doing.  Like other rabbis at this time of year, I’m still worried about what I’m going to talk about and which tunes I might use in the service!  But these past few days have made it all start to come together in a real way.  I know one thing for sure: Rosh Hashana 5774 is going to be a lot different from any other New Year that I’ve ever experienced.

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