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Cadaver training prepares AF warrior medics for real world encounters

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Michael Ellis
  • 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs
The study of human anatomy has helped further medical science since the third century B.C. Often reserved for medical students or researchers, today, cadaver training is helping medical technicians build confidence and hone critical life-saving skills at the 59th Medical Wing.

The new breed of warrior medics is testing the concept by verifying the effectiveness of incorporating cadaver training into the Sustainment for Trauma and Resuscitation Skills Program, according to Staff Sgt. Reginald Gilchrist, NCO in charge of the STARS-P.

“The high fidelity medical simulators we utilize during the course are some of the most advanced on the market, but still do not compare to working on cadavers,” Gilchrist said.

The training environment is also a safe place for students to experience the gamut of emotions that come from being in a situation where someone’s life may depend on how a medic reacts.

Unless you have worked in a trauma unit, “most medics don’t get to observe and treat patients with life-threatening injuries until they deploy. Most will experience it for the first time when they get to a combat environment,” Gilchrist said.

“This hands-on training was very beneficial, especially considering I have never deployed,” said Airman 1st Class Edward Robinson, an aerospace medical technician from the 559th Medical Operations Squadron. “Now, I have a mental picture of what to expect and won’t freeze up from the shock of seeing something like this for the first time.”

“We want the students to understand that when you’re in the field you’re going to have a visceral responses, and I rather they have a controlled emotional reaction in the classroom setting,” said Gilchrist.

It gives us the opportunity to go through the steps and talk about what we can do for the patients, along with what we can do for ourselves to prepare psychologically for theses encounters,” he added.

Another student described how the shock and uncertainty from not knowing what to do turned into self-confidence after she completed the course.

“This training gets rid of the shock and anxiety, so when the time comes I can hit the ground running and be ready to perform,” said Tech. Sgt. Frances Hodge, NCO in charge of physical exams for the 433rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron. “Ultimately, all the hands-on experience I can get will just make me a better medic.”

Gilchrist called the transformation students make once they attend the course, “a rewarding experience.

“You’ll see someone hesitantly walk in the room, feeling nervous and not wanting to even look toward the operating table,” Gilchrist said. “Later, that same person will perform with confidence and take the initiative as we go through the various procedures learned during the course.”