Simulation Training Saves Lives on the Battlefield
- Improve battlefield survivability by providing life-like scenario training exercises based on current operational environments and injury data.
- Deploy Medical Simulation Training Centers to provide standardized medical education and simulation training for Army Combat Medics and common, non-medical soldiers.
- As of February 2008, CSC had helped deploy 17 MSTC sites with CSC trainers instructing at all of them. The survivability rate for the wounded has grown to nearly 90 percent – compared with about 75 percent in Korea and Vietnam.
Wanted: An information technology integrator to provide training, lesson planning, and development of course materials; cognitive and psychomotor assessment skills for professional and non-professional certifications; and simulated war scenarios as realistic as life.
CSC answered the call, helping the United States Army achieve unparallel survivor rates.
One of the major challenges the U.S. Army faces in Afghanistan and Iraq is reducing battlefield mortality rates. In August 2005, the Army contracted CSC to help integrate and deploy standardized, state-of-the-art simulation training not just for medics, but for all soldiers – men and women who may be the first to give aid to comrades hurt in the immediate aftermath of roadside bombings, ambushes and battle.
From these efforts came the Army's Medical Simulation Training Centers (MSTC), which prepare soldiers psychologically to operate in potentially overwhelming situations. The currently fielded MSTC systems simulate the real battlefield conditions and real injuries – and the simulations are likely to become even more real with anticipated system upgrades. But already, thousands of combatants are armed with medical skills that save lives on the battlefield, because they have learned from their mistakes in safe, simulated environments.
In Training, Verisimilitude
For soldiers to take the training seriously and learn to operate under fire, the simulation scenarios demanded authenticity. The CSC team worked with the U.S. Army, reviewing the objectives and strategies of a broad range of training courses; helping to draft recommended equipment and supply lists; and integrating 29 pre-programmed injury scenario modules that mimic the physiological effects produced in actual traumatic injuries, metabolic dysfunctions, and disease processes.
CSC assisted in creating environments in which trainees encounter the sounds, smoke, smells and casualties of battle. The casualties — highly sophisticated mannequins that blink, breathe, scream, lose arms and legs, bleed and potentially die if they do not receive the correct medical interventions — wear the same uniforms and equipment that our soldiers do.
Additionally, trainees must contend with hostile and friendly force engagements, and come under fire from snipers and insurgents (live simulation conducted by both Army and CSC instructors using mock weapons). These actions force trainees to practice tactical battlefield skills such as room-clearing and perimeter protection — learning in safety to handle situations that, in combat, could be deadly.
Distracters Teach Awareness
Trainees confront simulated dismembered body parts, designed to distract and psychologically throw them into situations which they may never have encountered before. They come upon damaged helicopters and transport vehicles — helping them develop life-saving psychomotor skills such as extricating casualties, and providing medical care to patients in those platforms.
The training courses taught at MSTC sites include classroom lectures, a medical psychomotor skills laboratory, and simulation training. In the classes, each student serves all roles: as medical provider, team leader, and combatant support. CSC captures and edits actual video footage of the trainees, enabling them to critique each other and themselves, not only as the health-care provider but also as team member.
Results and Benefits
As of February 2008, CSC had helped deploy 17 MSTC sites with CSC trainers instructing at all of them. Three additional site deployments planned for 2008 include Fort Dix, Scholfield Barracks and Fort McCoy. CSC trainers currently teach five primary programs ranging from the initial Combat Medic Advanced Skills Training (CMAST) to an 80-hour Emergency Medical Technician course.
The CSC MTSC team holds occupational certifications and licenses ranging from the Emergency Medical Technician-Basic through the Registered Nursing. More than two-thirds of the CSC staff has 10 to 25 years of experience as healthcare providers. In addition, the teaching staff often serves as enemy combatants in the simulated battles.
Between November 2005 and February 2008, approximately 35,000 students graduated from the CSC-operated sites; and estimates project between 2,400 and 3,000 soldier trainees will graduate annually from each MSTC System. The survivability rate for the wounded has grown to nearly 90 percent — compared with just under 70 percent in World War II and about 75 percent in Korea and Vietnam.