Undermanned but not Overwhelmed, Corpsman Overcomes

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Kimberly Huidor

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Looking back at the days my fellow corpsman and I spent there, it dawned on me how the training we’ve received as corpsmen has prepared us for the course

Naval Hospital Bremerton’s Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Kimberly Huidor took part in Joint Field Exercise (JFE) with the Army National Guard’s Officer Candidate Program and 196th Regiment at the historical U.S. Army outpost of Fort Meade, South Dakota. Huidor was assigned to one of the four, 4-member corpsmen teams sent to the Black Hills locale to help provide medical coverage to 50-100 staff and 100-200 officer candidates during the various events and field exercises held over an eight-week summer period. She shares insight on her experience…

My experience at Fort Meade, South Dakota was one that can have me talking for days, sharing my memories with the encounters we were given while providing medical coverage for the candidates going through Officer Candidate School.

Looking back at the days my fellow corpsman and I spent there, it dawned on me how the training we’ve received as corpsmen has prepared us for the course. When we arrived, we were without any providers for the first three days (due to travel issues and reserve weekend training). Luckily, the training process for the candidates did not start until the fourth day, to allow them to check in and become accommodated in their barracks.

Given the training we’ve received about being prepared, we decided to create our own “med bags” while having a fully stocked one on hand, in anticipation of the potential casualties that lay before us.

During that time, we were briefed by the Army medic assigned to provide medical coverage  as well, that we would be providing medical coverage for a five and ten mile hike, day and night land navigation, morning and evening sick-call, and tailgate medicine during chow hours.

Given the training we’ve received about being prepared, we decided to create our own “med bags” while having a fully stocked one on hand, in anticipation of the potential casualties that lay before us. We had to take into account the weather, (it was tornado season), the terrain the candidates would be exposed to – hills, loose gravel, rocks, etc., and wildlife hazards South Dakota had to offer such as spiders and snakes.

We had to have some pharmaceutical knowledge on hand as well, given we didn’t have any providers for a brief time. We had to know the simple medications we distributed, what the symptoms treated were and the side effects the medications could cause. In conjunction with that, we had to know our candidates, making sure to verify they did not have any allergies to the medications issued.

During sick-call, we had very limited resources but did with what we had on hand and were successfully able to treat minor injuries/complaints. The Army medic explained we were also in charge of documenting the wet bulb globe temperature hourly, determining what the heat category index was, and reporting it to the proper authorities to take appropriate steps in limiting the severity of the physical exercises the candidates were exposed to.

In addition, we were also placed in charge of testing the water buffalos daily to ensure the candidates had an adequate water supply. Communication and teamwork played a very important role, not only were we one corpsman down from the expected 4-man team, but four of the five Army medics that were supposed to be aiding in medical coverage did not show.

The vigorous training we receive as corpsmen prepared us to overcome the obstacles in providing medical coverage to those who are in need of it.

Allow me to put this into perspective; three hospital corpsmen, one Army medic, and two Army PA’s were providing medical coverage to 100-200 officer candidates, but 50-100 staff members as well.

We had to be on top of our game and have flawless communication as well as outstanding teamwork to ensure we were providing the medical coverage needed. The vigorous training we receive as corpsmen prepared us to overcome the obstacles in providing medical coverage to those who are in need of it. The training we received, as well as the knowledge passed down from those more experienced also helped establish a foundation to allow us to adapt to any situation and make the best of what is given.