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Corpsman teaches Marines lifesaving

4 Nov 2004 | Lance Cpl. Lucian Friel

“Hurry up Marines get that gear on, your fellow Marines are screaming in pain. They need your help,” yelled Hospitalman 3rd Class Shandon E. Torres as he stood over them, making sure they performed the correct procedures to save the wounded Marines lives.

It was a blurry scene of green and red on the beach as Torres and his team descended the sand dune.  Gunshots rang over their heads forcing them to hit the ground. When the dust settled the saw their friends lying lifelessly on the wet sand.

The Roosevelt, Utah native instructs the Marines of 2d Marine Division as they participating in the Combat Lifesavers Course, which teaches the basics of treating wounds in combat.

Torres begins with the heartsaver portion of the class, which is comprised of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. During the class he also teaches the symptoms of heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke, and choking; instructing the Marines on the chain of survival, the steps taken to treat victims of various heart and respiratory problems.

“The beginning of the class is important because it’s the foundations of learning how to treat a wounded Marine in a real world scenario,” explained the senior corpsman of Weapons Co., 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.

The Union High School graduate teaches the mechanisms of an injury to help Marines better understand what causes them such as blast related traumas, stab and gun-shot wounds. To assess the casualty with minimal mistakes, the Marines learn different ways to determine a life-threatening hazard or if a combat wound was severe enough for a medical evacuation, which Torres recalled was something a Marine in Haiti had to do.

While Torres was deployed to Haiti from March to July, a young corporal, who he instructed, came across a civilian stabbed in the back during a riot.

Because of the knowledge he learned in the course, he was able to treat her until Torres reached the scene.

“It’s that type of situation that makes this course worth teaching for me,” he explained. “When a Marine is able to treat someone who is seriously injured and save their life, it’s an unbelievable feeling.”

Knife, gun-shot wounds and illnesses were the most common injuries the 22-year-old was faced with in Haiti, but being a former emergency medical team specialist he had dealt with those types of injuries long before he joined the Navy.

Being an EMT in Roosevelt sparked Torres’ interest in becoming a corpsman because he knew the medical field was something he could excel in and enjoy doing.

“I knew I would be good at what I do, and I love helping people. I’m glad I joined because it gave me the opportunity to work with Marines and teach them what they need to know to get ready for deployment,” explained Torres, who is always looking to be apart of the next most exciting event.

Torres is assisted in the course by fellow corpsmen who have served in Iraq. They instruct Marines on burns as well as heat and cold injuries, which is the last indoor instruction period during the course.

“The most relevant information in the class, is the section dealing with heat injuries, because that’s what Marines will most likely face in Iraq,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeremy M. Shelton, a corpsman with Headquarters Battalion. “Marines need this class so it’s not a shock when they are faced with the injury.”

They teach Marines how to properly evacuate a casualty from a combat zone with hands on training, which shows the instructors that the Marines understood everything they were instructed on.

The end of the course is a review/practical application period, where all the information from the beginning of the course is executed and gone over again if needed.

During the practical application, Marines are given different real life scenarios during which they are required to perform all the steps necessary to treat a victim in combat.

“The end of the course is the best time for the instructors to see how well everyone learned the material. If someone makes a mistake, we correct it so they don’t do the same thing in a combat zone,” Torres said.

With the 2d Marine Division preparing to deploy to Iraq, one thing that is important for all Marines to know is how to save their fellow Marines’ lives, because they never know when they will be faced with the task of being a corpsman in combat.

Torres and the other corpsmen are continuing to teach Marines how to save lives in combat to prepare them for deploying to Iraq.

“I love Marines’ mentality to excel at everything they do,” explained Torres. “It’s the same mentality I have and it makes it easier to teach them.”

The Marines he taught appreciate what they walked away with as a result of the course, understanding the importance of what Torres was teaching.

“This course is necessary for Marines to take because the situations we might face in Iraq require a knowledge of treating the wounded in combat; this course teaches you how to do that,” said Sgt. Sean E. Charles, a motor transport operator with Headquarters Co., Headquarters Battalion.