Combat First Aid Course
By WO MAR Chenier
28 August 2009
My first reaction to the Combat First Aid course (Cbt FA) was that this was going to be a review of the basic first aid courses that I have had throughout my career. Had the course not have been mandated training for TF 3-09 BG, I intended to not attend so that I would be afforded more time to complete much needed troop administration before deployment. In retrospect, I was surprised by the content of the course as well as its training delivery. Nowhere was it taught or re-taught how to treat burns, bruises, and broken limbs. This course carried on from where a Standard First Aid course would have left off, which in itself was refreshing. The theory lessons were brief and to-the-point with an abundance of training aids such as tourniquets and Israeli bandages. The course staff all displayed a thorough knowledge and confidence of the subject material.
I found that the strength of this course came in its practical application of first aid with the troops going into the field in full fighting order, organized into dismounted sections, and put through realistic scenarios. Although this course is not as extensive as the Tactical Combat Casualty Care Course held by some of our soldiers, we students were able to see the actual prioritization of combat situations- from winning the fire fight to securing a safe environment for casualties, to the actual conduct of first aid and extraction of casualties. This was a fine opportunity to practice various first aid skills. Additionally, it afforded us the opportunity to keep an eye on the little details that would make or break an operation, such as the enemy, the ground, and manpower.
In my opinion, the Cbt FA course should not be run as a stand alone course for those about to deploy on operations, but as a continuation of our standard level first aid training. Get the soldiers out of the classroom and into the field where they can practice how to dress a wound, apply a tourniquet, treat for shock while providing security on the ground, and prepare nine-liners and medical evacuations.