Womack Army Medical Center (WAMC) is working to reduce combat morbidity and mortality through its Enhanced Paramedic Program.
This 25-week program which targets the 68W combat medic specialist and the Navy corpsman has been ongoing since January 2018.
Command Sgt. Maj. Uriah Popp, WAMC director of Prehospital Medical Training Programs and leader of the Enhanced Paramedic Program, said this program is part of a greater strategic effort to get to zero preventable deaths on the battlefield.
Popp said currently, 90 percent of combat fatalities occur in fighting elements like the infantry.
Since 2001, 25 percent of the service members who died of wounds, their deaths have been deemed potentially preventable, and this percentage equates to nearly 1,000 service members.
The combat medic or corpsman are primarily responsible for providing emergency medical treatment at the point of injury, or where they are wounded on the battlefield.
This current military occupational specialty training track is based on an emergency medical training (EMT) basic curriculum.
This curriculum served the military well during the last 18 years of conflict, but current and future conflicts will present challenges increasing morbidity and mortality.
WAMC launched this initiative in support of the National Defense Authorization Act’s goal for prolonged care training and reducing preventable death.
“Our ‘Enhanced Paramedic Program’ targets where preventable death is occurring and who is responsible for providing their care,” Popp said. “This program offers the greatest return on investment for reducing morbidity and mortality on the battlefield.”
WAMC partnered with Fayetteville Technical Community College to provide medics the opportunity to earn and attend the EMT-paramedic training.
These medics receive critical care flight paramedic training and certification as well as Delayed Evacuation Casualty Management.
Once credentialed they are privileged as paramedics to sustain their newly acquired advanced skills within Fort Bragg’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Womack infrastructures.
Womack has trained over 1,000 medics from all military services in the past year, and plan to double those numbers in the future.
The Enhanced Paramedic Program aims to empower the conventional medic to provide field medical care beyond “doctrinal planning time” in order to decrease patient mortality and morbidity, as well as equip them with critical care skills to provide a higher standard of care.
A majority of the medics and corpsman WAMC has trained over the past year are from units in the 82nd Airborne Division, XVIII Airborne Corps and Marine units at Camp Lejeune.
Sgt. Lauren Engelhardt appreciated the opportunity of attending the enhanced course and welcomed the challenge of the new responsibilities.
“I love that the training gives us more of the nursing aspect than trauma,” she said. “I now have assigned patients that I’m responsible for in the Emergency Department, as opposed to assisting as I had before the training.” Now that Engelhardt is a trained paramedic, she is assigned to Fort Bragg’s EMS, an opportunity she would not have had if she had not been through the course.
“We want to mitigate the knowledge gaps that the 68Ws may have, in order to meet the demands of the future fight,” Popp said “Training prepares you for the known, but knowledge equips you with critical thinking skills for the unknown.” In the recently released report, “The Operational Environment and the Changing Character of Future Warfare,” U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) officials outlined what warfare over the next few decades may look like.
Between now and 2035, TRADOC expects there will be an era of accelerated human progress.
There will be a time where “… adversaries can take advantage of new technologies, new doctrine and revised strategic concepts to effectively challenge U.S. military forces across multiple domains,” the paper said.
“There are several initiatives like the K.I.A.(killed in action) Reductions and Enhanced Lethality that have been deemed important by legislation,” Popp said. ”Womack is supporting those initiatives by revamping the training of our combat medics to increase survivability and readiness.”