By Petty Officer 1st Class Jacquelyn D. Childs, Navy Medicine Education and Training Command public affairs
The Navy’s enlisted medical personnel are widely sought out in the Navy by non-medical personnel as well as doctors and nurses for their expert helping hands. In the Marine Corps, the “doc,” as they refer to their medical technician, is so highly revered, most Marines would tell you they’d jump in front of a bullet for them.
The Navy’s enlisted medical expertise even reaches into the civilian population as most anyone acquainted with a Navy medical technician is not afraid to reach out to them for medical advice or even emergency assistance.
This was proven in November 2015 when Chief Petty Officer Jacklyn Place found herself saving the lives of two neighbors.
Now an instructor at the Basic Medical Technician Program (BMTCP) at the Medical Education and Training Campus (METC) on Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Place joined the Navy in 2003 out of Emory, Texas. She said she always knew she wanted to serve, and she had a passion for patient care after helping care for her grandfather during her teenage years. So, she enlisted as a hospital corpsman and began her training in “A” School at Great Lakes, Ill. It was there the groundwork was laid to allow her to be successful in life-saving support.
“What prepares medical technicians is the initial training that we do here, which I received up in Great Lakes in 2004,” said Place. “From that initial training to the BLS [Basic Life Support] we have to do every couple of years, to the TCCC [Tactical Combat Casualty Care Provider Course] that we have to maintain, to many other mandatory trainings we must do along the way to, most importantly, the mentorship and training we get on the job from our providers.”
Place’s education and training came through when she was faced with a real-life trauma scenario in her own apartment building in San Diego Nov. 7. As she was relaxing at home that evening, she heard fighting escalate downstairs in her neighbor’s apartment. She stepped out of her apartment to help after hearing her neighbor call out for her. The woman had been stabbed multiple times, and Place immediately went into action to slow the bleeding from an artery in her arm.
With help from a couple of Marines who lived in the same apartment complex, they were able to calm the woman just before the woman’s mother, who lived in another apartment in the complex, rushed into to announce the neighbor’s 14-year-old daughter had been stabbed repeatedly and was bleeding out. Place left the woman with the Marines and rushed to provide aid to the daughter. Upon arriving at the second scene, she found the attacker pinned down by one of the neighbors and another neighbor trying to help the young woman who’d been stabbed. After assessing the situation, Place found the girl had been stabbed in the ribs, causing breathing difficulty and rapid blood loss.
“In both situations it was pretty easy to look, assess and see what I needed to do, training-wise, and take charge of the scene,” said Place. “Then I could move on from there and direct people as needed. Everyone around was great and willing to help, and that was a big part of it all.”
Place was able to quickly place a chest seal and keep the girl conscious with help from the neighbors until the paramedics arrived on scene. Concerned for the girl, she was grateful for the help she received, and all the training and experience that led her to the point of emergency preparedness.
“I don’t think you have time, especially in a trauma scenario where it’s so sudden, to stop and think, ‘what am I doing?’” she said. “You just go, and that’s what we’re taught and why our training is so redundant and repetitive. It’s so that when it happens, you know what to do. You don’t have to sit for too long and actually think about it.”
Medical technicians go through several weeks of training in BMTCP, which includes an introduction to emergency and nursing care basics. In a short time, they cover the basics of anatomy and physiology, cardiac life support, vital signs, intravenous care, basic psychology, customer service, first aid, wound-care management, reading and using medical records, and more.
“I think they come out with the basics as much as they can,” said Place. “I think like with any ‘A’ School, you’re going to learn the jist, the basics, and then you’re going to go out to the fleet, and the day-to-day is what teaches you. You’re going to learn from your LPO, your chief, your OIC, your doctors, your providers as you go. I think they come out of here with all the tools they need in their toolbox, but I think they have to expand that knowledge at their duty station.”
Like any Navy rating, Place believes medical technicians will continue to grow their entire career. She pointed out that she could check into a new medical facility tomorrow and work in a ward she never has before and learn something new. She believes the mentorship new Sailors receive at those medical facilities is key to building successful medical technicians.
“As a junior Sailor, I was working for civilian nurses, Navy nurses and doctors who took the time to train us,” she explained, “because they know how important and crucial they are to Navy Medicine. And it’s important to take them in and mentor them and train them. I think that’s the most important aspect aside from this initial school.”
Place transferred to Navy Medicine Training Support Center (NMTSC), the Navy service component of METC, at the end of June to start instructing Hospital Corps ‘A’ school. Enthusiastic as she begins her instructor position at METC, Place believes she will be able to use her experience and “sea stories” to not only teach her students, but inspire them as they take the first steps to become part of the military medical community.
“I’m just so passionate about patient care,” she said. “I tell them how much pride I have in being a medical technician and getting to serve in the capacity that I do. I set out my expectations of them and what they should expect and the fulfillment they’ll get in helping others as medical technicians.”