MAY 25, 2016, ROBERTSON BARRACKS, NORTHERN TERRITORY, Australia – Marines and sailors with Company B, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force Darwin, simulated casualty evacuation in a training area outside of Roberson Barracks, Northern Territory, Australia, on May 20, 2016.
“We were on a basic patrol,” said Sgt. Joseph R. Slizewski, a rifleman. “A couple hundred meters in one of our guys in the rear stepped on an [improvised explosive device].”
Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick L. Perez, a hospital corpsman, acted as the casualty.
“I had an amputated left leg, a sucking chest wound on the left side of my chest and a possible traumatic brain injury from the blast,” said Perez, from San Francisco, California.
Marines made sure their first priority is to maintain fire superiority at all times.
“We don’t want to take any more casualties,” said Perez. “Of course second is to do everything you can to save that life.”
First responders apply lifesaving aid and then move the casualty away from the blast site to a safer spot all while spinning up a nine-line medical evacuation request. Meter by meter Marines move the casualty towards the landing zone, setting up security around the casualty for protection.
“We’ve got to take care of our boys,” said Slizewski, from Omaha, Nebraska.
Marines requested medical evacuation support from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367’s UH-1Y Venom helicopters.
“I try to figure out where the [landing zone] is in relation to the aircraft and what is the quickest and safest entry,” said 1st Lt. Mark A. Betzel, a utility pilot. “Flying is always challenging whether it’s [casualty evacuation] or any other mission set.”
As a utility helicopter, the UH-1Y conducts a wide range of missions. They can provide offensive air support, intelligence and surveillance, command and control, tactical insertion of troops and in this case, fly far and fast making the difference between life and death.
“They were really fast getting down and getting out,” said Slizewski. He said he had never worked with this specific aircraft before but was impressed with how spot on the pilots were.
In real scenarios, pilots will fly the casualty to medical services nearby. Crew chiefs onboard are not trained as corpsman, therefore getting patients to a higher echelon of medical care is critical for their survival, said Betzel, from Elyria, Ohio.
“Going on a Huey is one hell of a ride,” said Perez, “They took good care of me and I’ll always take care of them. We’re all looking out for each other and I trust them with my life.”
Preforming this training in an unfamiliar environment during MRF-D, a six-month deployment of Marines and into Darwin, Australia, creates a new learning experience for the service members.
“The Marines realize the importance of this training and they really put their heart and soul into this,” said Slizewski, a squad leader.