The Army battle doctrine was developed for a mobile and widely dispersed battlefield.
The doctrine recognizes that battlefield constraints will limit the ability of trained medical
personnel, including combat medics (Health Care Specialist MOS 91W), to provide
immediate, far-forward care. Therefore, a plan was developed to provide additional
care to injured combat soldiers. The combat lifesaver is part of that plan.
PURPOSE OF THE COMBAT LIFESAVER
The combat lifesaver is a bridge between the self-aid/buddy-aid (first aid) training given
all soldiers during basic training and the medical training given to the combat medic.
The combat lifesaver is a nonmedical soldier who provides lifesaving measures as a
secondary mission as his primary (combat) mission allows. The combat lifesaver may
also assist the combat medic in providing care and preparing casualties for evacuation
when the combat lifesaver has no combat duties to perform.
Normally, one member of each squad, team, crew, or equivalent-sized unit will be
trained as a combat lifesaver.
A major advantage of the combat lifesaver is that he will probably be nearby if a
member of his squad or crew is injured. It may take a combat medic several minutes or
longer to reach the casualty, especially if there are several other casualties and/or the
medic is at another location. The combat lifesaver is trained to provide immediate care
that can save a casualty's life, such as stopping severe bleeding, administering
intravenous fluids to control shock, and performing needle chest decompression for a
casualty with tension pneumothorax.
COMBAT LIFESAVER'S AID BAG
The combat lifesaver carries a small aid bag (called a medical equipment set or MES)
containing supplies for controlling bleeding, initiating saline lock and intravenous
infusion, relieving tension pneumothorax, and other procedures. The combat lifesaver's
aid bag (with contents) weighs about six and a half pounds and occupies about 1.3
cubic feet. A listing of the supplies found in the aid bag at the time this subcourse was
developed is given in the Appendix. For current information, check the U.S Army
Medical Materiel Agency (USAMMA) listing at http://www.usamma.army.mil/ on the
Internet under DOD Unit Assemblages.
Some items, such as the bag of intravenous fluid, must be replaced when their
expiration date nears. Usually, the combat lifesaver's unit will perform the needed stock
rotation. If the combat lifesaver maintains his own bag, he must replenish his supplies
in accordance with his unit's standing operating procedures (SOP).