I've taken a grab bag of Tac classes and pretty much all of them were primarily about putting holes in bad guys, so I got to thinking diversifying a little bit with a medic class would be a good idea. No one really likes to think about themselves or their buddies getting seriously injured, but when the time comes, wishing it away is not going to do a lot of good. Thus getting a least some sort of basic medical education can go a long way which will be helpful outside of tactical situations as well. Having first met up with Lone Star Medics at Shotshow, I jumped at the offer to check out one of their classes this summer. Although I'm decent with a gun, my medical skill didn't go too far past Band-Aids and fortunately the 2 day Medicine-X class fits that skill level quite well.
It may seem obvious, but not that long ago medical skills and combat tactics were usually very separated. For example you've probably seen in the old movies where the medic is either waiting or giving aid right in the middle of a firefight with no cover, that shit was a real issue. These days doctrine is preferring to have those engaged in combat to be warriors first and healers second. The thinking is that you aren't going to be healing much of anything if you are dead, which I can certainly agree with. To achieve this, all enemies need to be eliminated or the wounded need to be taken to cover where giving medical care will be less risky. As with combat in general, this may lead to some unpleasant scenarios such as being able to see a wounded ally in the middle of the street, however unable to retrieve him until the enemy is destroyed or vision is obstructed to allow dragging the wounded to cover. Just running immediately out as a hero attempt will more likely result in causing yourself to join the wounded or dead pile.
True to the Lone Star name, the training took place in Texas, not too far away from Dallas at the Tac Pro Shooting Center. The ongoing joke was "who was the joker who planned this thing in the summer?" as it was ballz hot there around 100F. Caleb Causey (BIOS) is the main man of Lone Star Medics, however this class was supported by Kyle Omberg and Andrew Brady (BIO). Logan Loftin, another core member was also around to help a little, but as you may guess each class can have a different instructor composition. All members are former military with real world experience so students can count on proven techniques and instruction to be delivered. After intros and the usual paperwork, we proceeded to get into the core material. From the start it was declared although we would do some shooting, it wasn't a tactical instruction class such as how to use a pistol or rifle. It is assumed all students know their firearms fundamentals. Since there were only about 8 students, the learning ratio was great as 3 instructors were present at almost all times. This really helps out to not only have eyes from different angles, but instruction from professionals with multiple backgrounds.
Some notes from topics covered:
- Care Under Fire principles and techniques.
We went over the earlier stated concepts of in order to render aid the scene needs to be made safe or the injured need to be moved to reasonable cover. There must always be concern for keeping time staying on the X, or the danger zone, to the absolute minimum. Once medical care is possible, the main idea is to simply stabilize the wounded as quickly as possible to then arrange for a MED-EVAC. The complexity of dealing with these issues were shown well in the later live-fire drills.
- Casualty movement.
Many carry methods were covered with attention to the pluses and minuses of each. Everyone took turns trying each method to improve their techniques. Having as many options as possible is important as the factors of your body size, the size of the injured, and how much help is around will usually narrow down the best choice for the job. For example a fireman's carry is good when a decent distance needs to be covered, yet a simple drag may be more appropriate for a short distance as it is a much quicker action.
- Rescue rigging.
Multiple rigging devices were shown which ranged from ones with fancy carabiners and handles to simple webbing with looped ends. The main factors I took of interest were to finding a balance of usability and size. Sure it is nice to have a big easy carabiner for connecting and a beefy handle for pulling, but it may take up a whole large GP pouch to store. Where to connect was also covered which goes into other factors such as speed of connection, comfort on injured, and raise of injured to reduce friction which affects difficulty level of the pull.
- Improvised litters.
Litters are somewhat similar to rigging, yet offer more support and efficient use with multiple operators. We were shown a few litter styles to get an idea what is out there and how to apply the concepts to creating improvised versions when necessary. As with most gear, the big ones are nice, but not something you want on your back all day long. By trying them out, smaller details are noticed such as ability of raising high for team carry speed and the difficulty of having a weapon at the ready in one hand with a litter handle in the other.
- Proper use of tourniquets.
Tourniquets have come into more favor with modern Tac medicine so all the ins and outs were covered on when, how, and where to place them. Most of the latest tourniquet types were demonstrated and experienced to see first hand their pluses and minuses. Concerns are mostly on ease of application, ease of tightening, and security, however some note is still given to making sure they can be loosened later once at a medical facility.
- Self-aid and Buddy-aid.
This includes many aspects such as: medical assessment, equipment selection, and application. Several bandage types were shown with tricks on how to wrap them efficiently on yourself and others. After seeing how to use all the basic kit, instructors then helped us arrange our medical kits showing a few pouch options as well. Being able to get the the pouch and access it quickly is important, however the kit inside needs to be secure as well so it all doesn't explode out once opened. Just being able to experiment with opened medical supplies was very helpful since as a newbie it can be confusing what items are in those super compressed sealed packages. Some good points were brought up such as keeping good communication when approaching the injured. It may seem like common sense, but the concept can be allusive that running up and grabbing an injured warrior may end up in some friendly fire. A vast array of injuries are covered from simple cuts, to amputations, bullet wounds, and even sucking chest wounds (or Pneumothorax for you medic nerds).
- Live-fire and react-to-fire drills.
After we got a sufficient learn on, it was time to apply what all we learned into some drills. For the first event the range was setup with multiple shoot and non-shoot targets with poor Randy the injury dummy out there. About half way down the line we pick up a card for the injury lotto. This will state what is wrong with Randy and sometimes ourselves. Thus the targets must be taken care of or Randy must be taken to cover. This seemingly simple layout confronts the participant with all of the previously covered material making quite the distinction of what works in theory and what works in real life. The self injury cases were great lessons to those who haven't practiced weapons manipulations with only 1 hand and showed which tourniquets had better single hand performance. Starting alone with pistols, we then proceeded in later drills as pairs with both rifle and pistol to bring the full dynamics of the combat situation and the necessary teamwork.
For the big final show we got off the range for a full on simulated operation in the forest. The intent was to respond to friendly units hit by an IED. We were to secure the area by dealing with any enemy activity and apply aid to any friendly units. This was done in groups of 4 starting out in a moving vehicle. For extra realism there were even pyrotechnics to simulate secondary IEDs and incoming RPG fire, I was pretty impressed those made an appearance. Luckily the local fire department was there to help out as a few secondary fires came up. Once contact was made the immediate area was secured by shooting any visible targets and soon after decisions had to be made on how to deal with the wounded. Dummies were included that were "done for" with multiple amputations and low or no pulse to remind students to prioritize those who can actually be saved. It was then our team decision how to carry the wounded to the evac site which since was a bit further than most would consider for drag distance so litters were used. On the trail many more targets became visible requiring team communication to be properly dealt with all while still carrying the wounded. Once the Evac zone was reached we then were able to apply further medical care making sure to use all team members to provide both care and security. As you may have guessed, all that running around in the hot exploding forest wears a man down and is quite the event.
The general training atmosphere was a bit more relaxed compared to the last SWAT class I took which was more boot camp like. This worked out fine as everyone was there on their free will so all were eager to learn. It likely was a good thing since the amount of care that was taken to make sure everyone was hydrated seemed excessive at first, but we still lost 1 student that didn't quite keep up their drinking. Overall the class seemed well laid out with Caleb keeping everything on track as the lead. He is able to communicate the lessons which can be some heavy handed subjects while still being a very approachable dude. Some humor is thrown in there time to time to lighten things up which I always enjoy. The rest of the instructors shared many of these attributes and were very professional the whole time. Like in most classes I've been to, lunch time was great to open up a little and get to know everyone a little better. Learning doesn't have to be all textbooks and serious faces. As a bonus, Andrew provided me a rifle for the class and it was this crazy custom suppressed M4 variant. I had an issue with an old crusty steel mag (Caleb ironically talked about how they were still good despite being used back in his Balkans days), but it ran like a dream once we got E-mags up in there. The trigger was very smooth and the integrated suppressor significantly reduced both sound and recoil. Be sure and check out pics of it in the gallery and for those further interested, specs will be down below. I highly recommend visiting the Lone Star Armory site for those in the market to building a truly custom, yet all business rifle. The Lone Star Medics and Armory obviously do some collaborations, but they do just want to not they are seperate companies. I definitely look forward to training with the Lone Star crew again, the Medicine-X class was great bang for the buck and I assume their other classes follow in a similar fashion. Their utilization of the facilities , and more importantly the overall package show Lone Star Medics go they extra mile to stand out from other training programs. As usual, be sure and check out the gallery and video to get a better idea of what all we did!
Special Thanks - Facilities:
Used Lone Star Armoy Rifle Specs:
-Lone Star Armory TX15 Billet Aluminum Lower Receiver with upper receiver tensioning post
-JP Fire Control Group w/ ambi safety
-Magpul MIAD Grip
-6 pos. Milspec receiver Extension tube with LMT Stock
-Chrome silicone flat wire buffer spring with milspec carbine buffer
-Taktikilts lone star armory padded dual point sling
-Lone Star Armory TX15 Billet Aluminum Upper Receiver
-PRI gasbuster charging handle
-LSA m16 bolt carrier
-JP Enhanced bolt assembly
-PRI Lone Star Armory edition 15" carbon fiber free float handguard
-Badger low pro gas block
-Pri front and rear back up iron sights with XS sights white stripe front blade
-Tango down QD stubby vertical fore grip
-Surefire x300 light
-Lothar walther 10.5", chrome moly, 1x8"twist, carbine length gas system, 1/2x28 T.P.I.
-Suppressed Armament Systems M47 suppressor