PACIFIC OCEAN --
Marines and sailors with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit were tested on performing humanitarian aid and noncombatant and mass-casualty evacuations Aug. 16-17 during the unit's certification exercise and before deploying later this year.
Having forces at locations in San Diego, Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Yuma, Ariz., required sound resource management from leaders, said Capt. Kathryn Baker, the operations officer for Combat Logistics Battalion 11, the MEU’s combat logistics element.
CLB-11, comprised of more than 200 Marines and sailors, took the lead on all three operations, sending more and more personnel ashore as scenarios evolved.
Seaman Ronald Shaw, a hospital corpsman with the logistics battalion, went ashore with 23 other members of the CLB’s mass-casualty response team after a simulated improvised explosive device detonated during a humanitarian aid operation.
“We got the call while on ship,” said Shaw, a Houston native. “Then we started rockin' and rolling.”
The response team, consisting of 14 Marines and ten sailors, sprang into action. They loaded up into CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters on the flight deck of USS Bonhomme Richard and headed to the site.
The helicopters circled a village and landed on an overlooking hill.
“When we got close, we could hear everyone screaming and yelling,” said Shaw.
The team quickly set up a casualty collection point and went to work.
“My first patient had an open neck wound,” Shaw said. “There was blood everywhere.”
Shaw said the role players' acting, extensive makeup and mock injuries added much realism to the scenario.
“It caught me off guard,” he said. “It helps our training a lot ... not knowing what to expect.”
Patients had common blast injuries, broken bones and fractures and had to be carried on stretchers, giving the corpsmen and Marines a workout, said Shaw.
“I was worn out,” he said. “We had to carry stretchers and the walking wounded up the hill to the helicopters.”
First Lt. Michael Schultz, team officer-in-charge, said his goal is to be at a site no longer than 45-60 minutes. “We were out of there in 35,” he said.
“The workhorses of the team are the corpsmen,” said the Little Falls, N.J., native. “They are the ones out there saving lives.”
Four corpsmen served as initial responders to 15 patients. Stretcher bearers loaded the role players helicopters for transport back to the ship and further medical care.
“The team performed excellently,” Schultz said. “The Marines and sailors on the ship should know there is a team that will get them within an hour and take them home.”