MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Imagine being a deployed medical professional and two locals enter the clinic with multiple gunshot wounds. One doctor may not have time to save them both, but is it fair for him to decide which one to save?
Petty Officer 2nd Class Ariel Ampier, a hospital corpsman with 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, once had a similar dilemma. The Danbury, Conn., native was fortunate to have medically trained Marines by his side.
Ampier now ensures his Marine Corps brethren are equipped with life-saving skills like those the Marines who helped him have. From Jan. 12 to 15, Marines from 3rd Bn, 9th Marines, 2nd MarDiv, underwent the combat life-savers course here and Ampier taught them ways to make quick and accurate medical decisions on the battlefield, where a doctor may not always be available.
As a combat life-saving skills instructor, Ampier follows the course curriculum, but also puts a strong focus on the things he has applied in real-world operations. He explained how using each item in his medical kit in different ways can extend its use, making every kit more valuable.
“I try to emphasize the things I think are more important, and I try to teach the Marines how to think on their feet, kind of make them medical ‘MacGyvers,’” he said.
During a class demonstration, Ampier showed the Marines how to use a bandage wrap for a cast, a pressure bandage and a splint. He then encouraged them to think of ways to make the most of their equipment.
While deployed, Marines generally use medical supplies from a small kit containing bandages, splints, water gel, wraps, quick clot, an intravenous (IV) bag, cravats, trauma shears, and many other useful items.
“Each of these bags may cost a couple hundred dollars, so the battalion usually will put together its own kits instead of having them done professionally,” said Ampier. “Even with the lower cost, you still have to make what you have last.”
After learning the use of each medical supply, the 3/9 Marines learned to indentify and treat injuries such as burns, sucking chest wounds, broken bones, and other serious injuries.
The required knowledge didn’t stop there. They also learned manual carries, casualty evacuation procedures, anatomy, and litter transportation.
Ampier said he believes all of these skills will save lives when these Marines deploy.
“This course is definitely legitimate,” Ampier said. “It has a lot to offer and I feel safer knowing that the Marine to the left and right of me may be able to help me if I’m injured.”
Marines taking the course said the training is invaluable.
“After taking this course, I’d feel much more comfortable helping a corpsman with an injured Marine,” said Pfc. Joseph E. Mejis, a rifleman.
Others said they were glad the techniques were trouble-free.
“He provided us with simple and effective ways to save a life, and I’d feel confident using any one of these techniques while deployed,” said Lance Cpl. Michael L. Bleeker, an intelligence analyst.
During one part of the course Ampien managed to got under the Marines’ skin. He required them to administer an IV on each other. “I hate needles,” Bleeker said, cringing.
Although some weren’t so enthused about the poking and prodding, all the Marines managed to complete the portion with minimal holes.
“It was definitely a cool experience,” said Mejis, a Tampa, Florida, native. “It’s something I’ve never done before and I feel like now I could confidently give an IV to someone who needed it.”
At the end of the course, the Marines were given a medical scenario through a practical application test. Ampier decided what kind of wound their fellow Marine suffered in combat and the Marines acted out how to treat it. All of the Marines passed with much praise from Ampier.
“I can’t lie, this is the one of the best classes I’ve had,” he said. “They did a great job at everything.”
When these Marines deploy for their first, second or third time, they will have one more tool in their belt and Ampier knows the knowledge he’s passed on to these warfighters will help save lives.