Muleskinners train

Spc. Angelo Bayona, right, and Spc. John McKay, both health care specialists assigned to Charlie Company, 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, use chemically treated sponges to remove possible chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear contaminants from a simulated casualty during CBRN training Aug. 1. The training provided soldiers with the confidence in procedures required to decontaminate and medically treat soldiers, while keeping themselves safe.

Staff Sgt. John Couffer | U.S. Army

Twenty-five soldiers with Charlie “Ironmedics” Company, 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, trained Aug. 1 on procedures to decontaminate chemically injured soldiers.

The Ironmedics conducted training to familiarize leaders and soldiers with the proper procedures for handling patient decontamination in a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear environment.

“We need to know what steps need to be taken and when they need to be taken,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Manyen, the training noncommissioned officer in charge and the company’s evacuation platoon sergeant. “We know of countries who have the ability to use contaminates that can affect our military and service members, so we need to know how to counteract.”

With current events turning to Syria and Egypt, Manyen said he believes CBRN training is important.

“It is my understanding (this type of) training hasn’t been done in years and is something we need to be able to utilize, especially with what is going on with the attacks in Syria,” said 2nd Lt. Tyler Fonseca, a medical service officer for the company.

Manyen said if a medic doesn’t know how to properly decontaminate a patient it could cause a domino effect.

“Being the medical professionals, we need to know what to do to ensure we minimize the number of contamination injuries,” Manyen said. “We don’t need to become one or cause somebody else to become one. It will only cause a chain reaction.”

Soldiers across the battalion wore mission-oriented protective posture suits to the agent decontamination site with different simulated injuries, where they were examined by the physician’s assistant, and then classified as a litter or ambulatory patient. After they received their diagnosis they were directed where to go next.

“If (the patient is) someone who needs attention right away we have a site where they can get treatment,” Fonseca said.

“They will go through the procedures of dropping their clothes, scrubbing them down, pushing through and getting checked by the (improved chemical agent monitor) to see if they are clean, if not then they go through the process again.”

After determining what type of casualty the patient is, medical personnel removed the soldier’s MOPP gear, along with their outer garments.

Patients classified as a litter casualty received a sponge bath and ambulatory patients were transferred to the decontamination showers. If needed they were evacuated to a more suitable medical facility.

“This training was really hands on,” said Spc. Angelo Bayona, a four-year medic. “It makes you more confident when you are able to actually practice.”

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