U.S. Navy corpsmen assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), and U.S. Army medics with Golf Company, 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, participated in a joint-service casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) class at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Aug. 1.
The class included equipment familiarity training as well as casualty loading and unloading procedures from U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps aircraft.
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Cassandra Dempsey, the Shock Trauma Platoon CASEVAC corpsman with the Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 11, 11th MEU, was grateful for the opportunity to share knowledge with her Army counterparts.
“Our mission is the same: Keep the patient alive while en route to a higher echelon of care,“ said Dempsey. “Working alongside the Army medics makes us aware of their capabilities in comparison to ours.”
Soldiers demonstrated proper techniques for loading and unloading a casualty from a HH-60M Blackhawk helicopter, as well as how to properly utilize the different types of stretchers used by MEDEVAC personnel.
“Loading patients into the HH-60M is easier than loading patients into the MV-22 [Osprey],” said Dempsey. “They are made specifically for litters, and there is no maneuvering around passengers because the bird is a dedicated platform.”
Unlike their Army counterparts, the MEU’s corpsmen do not have an aircraft solely dedicated to evacuating casualties. They rely on aircraft assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 (Reinforced) to move patients, normally an MV-22 or a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter.
Chief Hospital Corpsman Kimemanuel Suarez, independent duty corpsman and senior enlisted leader for CLB-11 Shock Trauma Platoon, explained that U.S. Navy corpsmen are the primary caregivers for Marine units, providing emergency medical aid and treatment in a wide range of locations including health clinics, aboard ships, or in deployed combat environments.
“We provide top-notch expeditionary medical care to our Marines at any time, any climate or any environment via air, land or sea,” said Suarez. “Where our Marines go, the Navy corpsman goes.”
The day concluded with Navy corpsmen observing an HH-60M take off in response to an actual casualty. The Sailors then gave the remaining Soldiers a tour of an MV-22, explaining the casualty loading and unloading procedures unique to the aircraft.
Lt. Cmdr. Aaron Pannier, 11th MEU surgeon and Shock Trauma Platoon officer-in-charge, explained that the training is invaluable for both services.
“The team has been extremely helpful and open to our joint training. We were able to share best practices and patient movements across services and platforms,” said Pannier. ““Our joint training for CASEVAC and MEDEVAC has one core universal mission, and that is to provide our patients with the best care possible.”
The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and the 11th MEU are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.