Story by Tanner Cole
Feature Photo by Katie Gray
Shots rang out and bodies hit the grass. A squad of Army cadre expertly eliminated their enemies while rushing to assist their fallen comrades. Just 20 feet away sat the entire 1st Regiment of the Leader Development and Assessment Course.
With a boom, a smoke signal for a helicopter went off. The Cadets saw everything they needed and proceeded to hands-on training.
The officer-in-charge on-site, Lt. Col. Blaise Gallahue, of Pascagoula, Mississippi, stressed the importance of each Cadet knowing simple first-aid procedures before attaining a leadership position.
“The purpose is for the Cadets to all know the basic life-saving techniques of first-aid,” Gallahue said. “ Every Soldier in the Army needs to know them. These are all the baseline tasks: clear an airway, apply a tourniquet, [treat] sucking chest wounds, assess a casualty and call a [evacuation helicopter].”
Those five tasks were demonstrated at five different training areas for the Cadets. To test their knowledge, an exam took place later that afternoon.
At the first lane Cadets gathered around dummies with hidden injuries in order to assess a casualty. Cadets scooped under their extremities and attempt to locate any ailment they can. The exercise simulates how they would handle a similar situation on the battlefield, and some of the Cadets, like Gray Bickham, of the University of Texas at Dallas, even speak to the dummies just as they would their squad-mates.
“Hey dude,” Bickham said. “It’s going to be OK. I’m a great field medic and you’re going to be fine.”
Cadets moved on to applying tourniquets at the next lane. Staff Sgt. Matthew Helwer and Staff Sgt. Nicholas Kaster, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, led the briefing on controlling bleeding for each platoon.
One group of Cadets possessed a familiar face for the trainers.
Steve Folsheim sat in the back of the platoon with a smile on the face. He knew every answer to every question.
“Folsheim here was actually with us,” Kaster said. “He was the primary instructor on this lane.”
Folsheim started in the Army in 2001. A series of promotions led him to a cadre position at LDAC teaching first-aid training. He helped develop the training classes for all of LDAC after returning to school. After seeing the training first-hand and surrounding himself with college students working to become officers, he joined ROTC and set out to do the same.
Now Folsheim is a Cadet at the University of Wisconsin undergoing training that he himself helped design.
“It looked like the kind of program that I needed to be involved in. I could still help leaders that were developing around me, and I could still do a little soldiering and instruct people while at the same time become an officer myself.”
According to Helwer, Folsheim is a great asset for the cadets in his squad and his platoon. He fulfills a leadership position during LDAC by providing guidance to his fellow soldiers just like before.
That extra guidance is much appreciated, as preventing blood loss is one of the most important things a soldier can do for a fallen comrade.
“Blood loss and hemorrhage is one of the main things that kill people on the battlefield,” said Helwer. Applying that tourniquet right away is sometimes one of the most crucial things to get on and stop the bleeding right away.”
Next the cadets learned to clear an airway. Rhett Williams did everything he could to absorb every piece of information from along the way.
“We learned how to insert a nasopharyngeal into an airway,” Williams said. “We learned how to put a dressing onto a sucking chest wound, and we learned how to do the head tilt chin lift.”
They used dummies once again. Nasopharyngeals, tubes designed to maintain an open airway in an unconscious person’s nostril, were applied and studied. The cadets were becoming experts.
After learning to properly carry their comrades out of harm’s way, the cadets arrived at a tent with numbers scrawled on a whiteboard. Trainers stood with radios at the ready.
Here they learned the proper technique for calling in a ‘medevac’, the medical helicopter evacuation system the Army uses to deliver injured soldiers into the hands of medics from anywhere in the world. The soldiers now know basic first-aid, but Medevac units would finish the job.
This final training solidified each Cadets’ role as each others’ safety net. If the worst was to happen, they know what to do and how to do it in any situation.