Tactical Combat Casualty Care: A new standard of trauma care training

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ashley Perdue
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, plays host to several Tactical Combat Casualty Care for Medical Personnel courses throughout the year.

This course is one of two certified TCCC courses offered to all Defense Department personnel over the past five years at MacDill AFB. TCCC-MP is intended for medical providers while the other course is for non-medical personnel.

“Everything taught during TCCC is evidence-based, meaning it has been proven in combat,” said James Norbech, 6th Medical Group medical program director. “There is a committee on TCCC that meets two to four times a year and interviews medics fresh out of theater, who have experienced incidents, to see what is and isn’t working.”

These courses are designed to teach lifesaving techniques and how to provide the most effective trauma care during combat.

“We are uniquely positioned in the state of Florida to be able to offer this course to a multitude of units in the regional area,” Norbech added. “We also partner up with the combatant commands and tenant units on base, such as U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, Special Operations Command Central, Marine Corps Forces Central Command and U.S. Africa Command.”

The Medical Provider course is three days long with two days dedicated to learning and applying skills such as stations set up within the medical simulation lab. Once all personnel demonstrate proficiency at each station, they are introduced to a new dynamic.

“We add in various simulated scenarios that encompass the three phases of TCCC, which are care under fire, tactical field care, and tactical evacuation,” Norbech added.

Once in the field, personnel are armed with paintball guns and endure a simulated combat scenario testing their ability to rescue casualties. During the scenario, they must provide medical care while also returning fire. Personnel administer care to manikins as instructors provide feedback and guidance.

On day three, supporting units provide smoke and ground burst simulators, along with personnel armed with paintball guns to act as enemy combatants. Once participants have ceased fire, they must complete an evacuation simulation requiring them to transport casualties to a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, provided by the Army unit 'G' Company 5-159th Medevac, from Clearwater, Florida.

“TCCC, in itself, is one of the more innovative concepts being brought into the military,” said Army Sgt. Hannah Gustafson, a medical operations noncommissioned officer with the Joint Communications Support Element. “Being able to run a real-world scenario is priceless for medics, as we need to keep our skills sharp and on point at all times. Having an actual UH-60 here to pick up our simulated casualties reminds us how loud a real-world scenario is, and how extremely limited our vocal communication will be. This includes being shot at by paintballs. Even though not lethal, it was a constant reminder that this is a combat situation. It was pretty amazing getting to experience the edge you need to keep in this job.”

According to Norbech, TCCC’s importance falls on ensuring military personnel enter into combat possessing the confidence, appropriate skillset, and knowledge to save lives.

“The instructors for this course at MacDill [AFB] have picked it up, surpassed the crawl-walk phase and are running with this program,” Gustafson concluded. “It’s amazing how they’re able to bring together personnel from all branches, possessing different training backgrounds, and help them operate cohesively in the same stressful environment.”