Combat care: Medics & muscle memory

FRESNO, Calif.

Outside Forward Operating Base Courage it's a seemingly quiet day. Inside soldiers areenjoying a much deserved break. Then, all of a sudden an attack on base leaves troops critically injured. Combat medics respond in seconds to treat gruesome injuries. The blood, bombs and bullets feel real but they're fake. It's week 16 the final week of training for these medics.

"This is the last phase," PFC Courtney Fitzgerald a combat medic told Action News.

And it hasn't been easy. Army officials say each year about 7,000 medics start the training close 1,200 or just over 17 percent don't make it to this stage. Those who do, learn what it takes to keep the stress from overwhelming them.

"We tell them when that adrenaline starts pumping through your body, you can get stronger faster and dumber," Sgt. Michael Mazzoni, a combat medic instructor, told Action News.

That's why they're taught to rely on their muscles instead of their minds.

"Once you get that muscle memory, in any condition, given any injury, you're ready to go," PFC Joshua Hedman , a medic in training, told Action News.

"Now, we can just look at an injury and we know what to do so it's a lot faster treating it," Joel Fernandes, a medic in training, told Action News.

Muscle memory is defined as the ability to memorize or perform well rehearsed motion or motor skills less consciously or more by habit. Simply put it is your memory for motor skills. It's why you can ride a bike even if you haven't for years or type without looking at the keyboard. Instructors say in this situation.

"Your hands should be moving without you even thinking about it," Sgt. Mazzoni explained.

Private Joshua Hedman tells us that happens by doing these procedures over and over and over again.

"You don't even have to think about what our next step is, you're reaching for the next piece of equipment or your buddy working across from you on the other side is handing you that equipment it's kind of like an orchestra," Hedman said. "Everything is strung together really well, and it works beautifully together."

Doing instead of thinking plus their own ingenuity could be what helps these medics save lives overseas and they learn it all right here.

Once medics make it through the grueling 16 week training course they can be deployed to the frontlines within three to six months.

Phillip Reidinger,
PAO Army Medical Department Center and School
(201) 221-8580

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