CAMP HOVEY, Republic of Korea — The patrol from 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, moved slowly through the tree line when they took small arms fire from a well concealed enemy.
The squad returns fire, suppressing the enemy. A Soldier is hit and calls out for help, but the nearest medic cannot reach him. It’s up to his battle buddies to provide care until he can be evacuated. This is the premise behind the Saber Squadron’s First Responder Course.
The week-long course teaches Soldiers how to provide extended care to the wounded in austere environments; required for a unit such as 6th Sqdn., 9th Cav. Regt., a reconnaissance squadron that typically operates far in front of the brigade.
“Having graduates of Saber First Responder in the formation contributes to our ability to do what scouts need to do-stay alive to keep reporting,” Lt. Col. Nate Crow, the 6th Sqdn. commander, said. “Our Saber First Responders allow our medics to be more effective and contribute to our lethality by giving troopers confidence that we can take care of them if they are wounded, allowing them to focus on the mission at hand.”
Cavalry scouts often operate in small elements performing reconnaissance and security operations outside of normal supporting distances from higher echelon medical care. Saber first responders give scout sections the medical training they need to treat casualties more effectively at the point of injury when immediate evacuation is not an option.
Twenty-four troopers from 6th Sqdn., 9th Cav. Regt., one Air Force Airman, and five Republic of Korea soldiers were tested. All but one met the standard and passed the final day of lane testing.
According to Sgt. 1st Class Marcos Cruz, platoon sergeant of the squadron’s medical platoon, the course is more detailed than the standard combat lifesaver course that most Soldiers learn.
“We focus heavily on the MARCH acronym that the medical profession utilizes. It stands for massive hemorrhage, airway, respiratory, circulation and hypothermia,” Cruz said.
Following four days of didactic and hands-on training, the Soldiers had to complete lane evaluations. The evaluations incorporated stressors to bring as much realism to the training as possible. Situations called for troopers to provide care while under fire, during a chemical attack and in near blackout conditions.
“The lanes were tough and the Soldiers walked away feeling not only more confident in their ability to save a life, but more importantly, with more knowledge of the medication that they will carry if we were to go to war tonight,” Cruz said. “We had every Soldier tell us it was by far the best medical training they have received during their time in the military.”
In addition to normal medical treatment for wounds and burns, the Soldiers received thorough training in identifying and treating symptoms of chemical, biological and radiological attacks. They received instructions how to use diazepam, canna, tranexamic acid and other medications and when to administer them.
“Saber First Responder is significant because it provides the squadron with a capability that directly contributes to our readiness,” Crow said. “Troopers who graduate from this course can not only employ the basic lifesaving techniques taught in CLS, they are trained to conduct delayed evacuation casualty care to keep wounded troopers alive for hours or days. That makes them much more useful to our medics, allowing our medics to focus on the troopers who are the worst wounded.”