Allied medical instructors at winter training in Norway
20 students on NATO Cold Weather Combat Medic Instructor Course 2021 practice medic skills/ drills during winter conditions at Setermoen in Northern Norway.
During 2 weeks, the students who came from USA, Canada, France, England, the Netherlands and Italy, have learned to use their own medic drills and adapt them to work in a winter scenario. The course is based on the TCCC concept with skills from individual level to higher unit level. This was a pilot implementation to meet a growing demand for winter-related medic education from allies. The students have gained their own skills through practical training, lesson preparations and completion of lessons.
The cold environment, together with snow, contributes to the treatment of patients becoming more challenging than it already is. Hypothermic trauma patients have a higher mortality rate than non-hypothermic trauma patients. The students therefore learn different methods for the prevention of hypothermia and experience that exposure of the patient must take place in a heated environment. It can be in a tent with the primus as a heat source, in a hot vehicle or in a warm building.
The simple is often the best
Prevention of hypothermia is strongly emphasized. Through the students' own experiences and by using a thermal camera, the students gain an understanding of how important it is to insulate between the patient and the surface. The heat loss to the ground is the biggest challenge. In order to achieve sufficient insulation, it is necessary to use several sleeping pads under the patient. To supply external heat, hot water from the thermos is used on water bottles that are placed close to the patient's body. In addition, wet clothing and snow are removed before placing the patient in the sleeping bag and into a mountain cloth. This way of conducting hypothermia prevention provides an understanding that the equipment you need is the equipment you already have. Put simple, it is all about the basics in wich most medics already know, although the actual implementation might not be that easy.
The course is conducted under the auspices of the Norwegian School of Winter Warfare in the role of NATO Center of Excellence Cold Weather Operations (COE-CWO). The medical subject content is put together through a collaboration between Norwegian Land Warfare Center / Land Warfare Center medical brance and Norwegian Armed Forces Joint Medical services. The support from the medical Battalion, the Artillery Battalion, Intelligence battalion, Allied Training Center, Special Forces, the 339 Squadron and Norwegian Defence logistic organisation means that the course can be completed in a smooth manner. This is a good example of how COE-CWO as a network organization can use its potential to offer highly relevant courses for our allied nations.