Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday Ugly Gun

Since I've got time and access, why not:

Which is probably the same thing that ran through somebody's mind before they "customized" that SKS.

Practice, Practice, Practice.......

No sleeping in this Sunday. The medics got to get up to repeat a driver's education program we took last week. Why? Well, by gosh, they had the wrong vehicle. Last week, we drove an armored HMMWV. This week, we armored HMMWV. But this one goes to 11 has a rotating gunners turret; a turret that apparently is not used any longer in theater. I'm eagerly anticipating an announcement next Saturday evening: "By the way, they had they wrong vehicle last week again. 0500 wake up for driver's training Sunday". At which point I will drive an armored HMMWV with a turret with with the impact resistant windows for 10 minutes, then wait for another two hours before being released to return to the barracks. Ah well, another opportunity to practice gracefully (aka, not cursing loudly and at length) accepting what I can't change.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I ran across this by accident tonight. These are a couple of guys from my unit during our deployment in '03-'04 in Iraq. They're not representative of the whole unit, but the video demonstrates just how much fun you could have in northern Iraq in early 2003. E.g., not much.

Please note: I am not any of the people in this video. I am especially not the guy, who shall go unnamed, who feels free to enjoy his beverage while standing in burning shit fumes.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Beyond EMT-B Training

After focusing on medicine from the Emergency Medical Technician Basic view, we transitioned into a military medicine focus. Equipment and techniques have evolved considerably since my last deployment in '03-'04. Several standards of treatment that were established well before I got in back in the '90s have been found wanting and discarded. New vehicles, like the medical Stryker above, are amazing to someone who started out with ambulances consisting of essentially a box mounted on the back of a Chevy truck chassis. Wound treatment doctrine and techniques are far beyond the trinity of a bandage, pressure bandage, tourniquet technique that I learned in medic school. However, some things don't change, like the Army's love affair with the 18 gauge needle for IVs:

(There's something about an 18 gauge in the hands of a new medic that can really inspire fear. )

The training took place in both classroom and field, with the field environments varying considerably. Moving a 250 patient with personal equipment through a grass field is completely different than moving the same patient up a flight of stairs from an unlighted basement.

Overall, I can say that the instructors that ran our combat medic training were intensely dedicated. The great majority of them were reservists, some of whom had been activated for over three years doing this job. Many of them had been deployed to combat theaters before that, and had insights and experience you couldn't get from a manual. This training is standard for deploying medics now, and it's a great improvement over what was available to me during my first pre-mobilization experience. This kind of knowledge is gained at a cost, and I'm thankful on the emphasis placed on getting out to the people who will need it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

EMT-B Training

A few images from some completed training. Our unit spent several weeks at Camp Bullis completing courses designed to bring medics (now "healthcare specialists"; I still prefer the term medic; newer isn't always better) up to speed before deployment. The first phase was EMT-B (Emergency Medical Tech, Basic) review, or for those of us who had let our registration lapse, review and boards.

Our first stop was in our new quarters, which quickly earned the name "pig huts". The first several days, you would see soldiers doing a great imitation of chickens looking for feed in a barnyard as they were constantly looking at the ground for old nails to hang clothes on. Nail placement was a achieved with the Mark I BFR (Big F****** Rock) we found outside our door.

The Army is big on intensive learning, done quickly. Also lots of hands on with some pretty advanced simulator mannequins. Good training, although there's a definite need to upgrade the facilities at the post we were at. We practiced with some fairly expensive mannequins in a building that was a gutted cooking facility that probably dated from the 1940s.

Our particular unit did well, with the two of us who sat for EMT-B boards both passing. Good incentive to keep the continuing education points current so I don't have to take the boards a third time. On completion of the EMT portion, we began training more oriented towards military medics, who have a greater degree of freedom in their scope of practice. More on that later.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Camp Dodge

My first month of activation has passed, and I've been reminded of many things that I'd forgotten, or more likely, supressed. Like getting up at 0430 hours for a crappy breakfast, then waiting around for an hour or two for the normal people to come to work. And grenade practice in the snow, setting up claymore mines in the snow, and tactical movement in the snow. Or the state of the art ( for 1930) latrines:

There's nothing quite like a nice morning chat with your neighbor while you both empty out last night's meatloaf. On the up side, the paperwork was done, problems were resolved, and my urine was judged to be of superior quality by the lab, e.g., I don't have diabetes yet, or any nasty forbidden substances in my system.

Of course, there's always a few unpleasant suprises lurking in the corners, like being issued a brand-new MOPP (chem warfare) suit with all of it's charcoal-like dust intact, then being told to put it on for the last class of the day before boarding busses back to the armory:

The next day brought an interesting plane ride to Texas, but that's for the next post.