Photo Information

Lance Corporal Michael J. Martin from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Command Element works on a patient during a medical refresher course at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Jan. 14, 2009. The Marines were tasked with providing trauma care to life-like mannequins with a range of simulated injuries. The 26th MEU is in Kuwait for sustainment training.

Photo by Cpl. Aaron J. Rock

The Golden Hour: teaching Marines to save lives

15 Jan 2009 | Cpl. Aaron Rock

Mangled limbs pumping blood onto the floor is not something anyone ever wants to see.

However, knowing how to properly deal with this common contemporary battle wound is essential to any servicemember today.

Knowing how to stop bleeding quickly and use tourniquets is one of the most important skills Marines need to know on today’s battlefield, said Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn M. Porter, a Corpsman with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

So when they were given the opportunity to do some refresher training with the lifelike mannequins at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, they jumped at the chance.

Forty-two Marines from the 26th MEU’s Command Element, mostly certified combat lifesavers, took part in the class, which uses computerized mannequins to help servicemembers train with the tools they carry into the field with them.

The mannequins breathe, blink and bleed like people, and the computerized controls allowed the instructors to change situations on the fly, so the Marines had to constantly monitor their “patient’s” condition.

The course “allows the command to evaluate how the Marines are doing,” said a course instructor, who declined to be identified citing contractual restrictions.

“Our primary goal is to make sure they know how to stop the bleeding,” he said, echoing Porter.  He said if the patients can survive for the first hour after an injury then they normally can make it to emergency medical facilities, where they will receive the best medical care possible."

Porter referred to that hour as the "golden hour."

“The training is important because using and putting on gear like tourniquets and bandages is different than seeing it or reading about it in a book,” Porter said.

He said the mannequins help train the Marines because the Marines were forced to deal with realistic situations like tourniquets slipping off and relieving collapsed lungs, which they may encounter in the field.

“It introduced the Marines to something they can use to save somebody’s life,” he said.