Marines rushing into combat count on the corpsman to come to their aid if they’re hit. Here’s what the sailors do after the call of, “Corpsman up!”
1. To start, corpsmen rush to the casualty
Once the Marines have fire superiority and call for medical aid, the corpsman quickly moves to the stricken Marine. They can begin care there, but they’ll establish a casualty collection point if the original area isn’t secure or there are casualties in multiple locations.
2. Assess the injuries
A Marine assesses simulated injuries during a training exercise. Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Rooks
The corpsman immediately begins assessing the casualty. During the assessment phase, injuries are identified and the corpsman begins ranking them, preparing to treat the worst wounds first. Any injuries that are immediately life-threatening such as a major bleed are treated as soon as they are identified.
If more than one Marines is injured, the corpsman will triage them at this time, deciding which wounds to treat on which patient in what order.
3. Begin interventions
Once the injuries have been identified and ranked, the corpsman begins treating the injuries one at a time. Bleeding is treated with pressure bandages and tourniquets. Airways can be protected with nasopharyngeal airways, a rubber tube pushed into the injured Marine’s nose. Blood circulation is monitored to prevent the patient descending into shock.
4. Prepare for Medevac
Once the patient is stable enough for transport, it’s time to get them off the battlefield. The patient is loaded onto a litter and the corpsman coordinates the evacuation. Depending on available assets, the patient can be taken off the battlefield in a helicopter, ground ambulance, or a Humvee.
5. Get the casualty on the ambulance or casevac vehicle
The corpsman will move with the casualty to the evacuation point and hand them over to the medic or corpsman assigned to the ambulance. When possible, the ambulance will give the corpsman on the ground a new aid bag to replace items used on the patient, ensuring they will have necessary supplies to treat future casualties.
6. Resume the mission
Unless absolutely necessary, the corpsman will stay with the Marines in the field and return to patrolling. They’ll pull security, treat minor ailments, and wait for the next call of “Corpsman, up!”
Check out the video of a Medevac crew rushing to evacuate a casualty.