MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Sailors with 2nd Marine Division gathered recently to learn about new medical advancements in vehicles being deployed to combat zones.
The Force Protection Cougar Ambulance, a modified mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle, was designed specifically for the Marine Corps for timely and efficient medical evacuation.
“They needed a protected platform to transport casualties, especially when air support is limited,” said Killeen, Texas, native Joe Surette, a retired Army medic of 26 years and an instructor during the ambulance training. “From the point of injury, you have a limited time to get them to a surgeon and to more advanced care. It’s not just an ambulance, but it also has armored protection where you can treat people, instead of out in the open in a combat zone.”
The ability to provide care for a casualty during transport on a medically equipped vehicle enhances the patient’s potential for recovery and may reduce long-term disability.
The cougar ambulance is currently equipped with a wide range of medical capabilities. The vehicle’s seating configuration has the ability to transport a medical assistant with either two casualties on stretchers and one ambulatory patient able to sit or one casualty on a stretcher and four ambulatory patients able to sit. The ambulance is also supplied with one supplement en route care bag that contains airway/breathing management, hemorrhage control, splinting and burn care supplies. In case a convoy comes under attack, the vehicle also contains two preconfigured combat casualty care bags, which include hemostatic dressings and surgical airway supplies that allow for hemorrhage control. All of these tools play a large part in aiding casualties in a combat situation.
“I rolled up to Baghdad in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom One and I was the medical platoon sergeant,” said Surette. “The vehicles were soft-skinned humvees – this was before the (improvised explosive devices). The enemy realized they couldn’t match us in firepower so that was the evolution of the IED. Once they started engaging in those tactics … these vehicles, if we already had them, would have probably saved hundreds of lives.”
One corpsman at the training who recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, mentioned how useful the supplies inside the modified MRAP would be in a combat zone.
“If I had the tools available inside of one of these, it would help out a lot,” said Cleveland native Seaman Dylan Salvatore. “This would be very good in a convoy if something happened and a lot of people were injured. You’d be able to take care of them and get them to an area where an aerial (medical evacuation) would be available.”
The training ended with the sailors loading and unloading simulated casualties on and off the vehicle, testing the skills they learned throughout the day.
“This training is very useful for junior corpsmen because it keeps them thinking and helps them create their own style of care,” Salvatore mentioned. “They need to always be thinking about what they have available to them, and this shows them the tools that they have.”