CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa Japan -- Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Peter Wysocki gingerly rotates the patient’s leg and reiterates knowledge to his students. Effortlessly, without looking up, he fires a question at Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Daniel Melendez pertaining to the care and treatment for hip injuries. Next, Hospitalman Tracy Shorter answers a question about stress fractures as Wysocki prepares to move on to the next lesson during another information-packed day of 3d Marine Logistics Group’s Corpsman Clinical Exchange Program.
Wysocki, an independent duty corpsman, has dealt with treating a wide variety of illnesses and ailments in his 13 years in the U.S. Navy. From aboard the Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD-51), and ashore at U.S. Naval Hospital Naples, Italy, to his present duty station with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3d MLG, in Okinawa, Japan, he has independently provided care for patients plenty of times; a skillset he is now passing on to Melendez and Shorter.
The day to day tasks of a basic Navy Corpsman can range anywhere from conducting clerical duties to attaching to forward-deployed combat units. In many cases, corpsmen will take their patient into the care room, conduct vital checks, and discuss the patient’s symptoms with them. They will then take their assessment of the patient to a provider, also known as a medical officer. From that moment forward, decisions are in the hands of the provider to decide the treatment plan for the patient’s medical needs.
To improve medical care while underway, the Navy developed an additional schooling program to train experienced enlisted hospital corpsmen to learn and work as independent duty corpsmen, typically on smaller ships and submarines when medical officers are absent.
Wysocki had the opportunity to become an independent duty corpsman and is now passing on that knowledge to the next generation of young corpsmen, like Shorter, a corpsman with Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3d MLG, through the CCEP.
“[CCEP] teaches basic corpsmen how to do more than just discuss patient symptoms and pass that information to the medical officer. We are here to learn how to diagnose based on our observations and knowledge, so we can be better assets at the small unit level,” explains Shorter. “This course allows us to learn how to formulate a corrective care plan for the patient ourselves, with the ‘Go ahead’ from the medical officer.”
According to U.S. Navy Capt. Andrew Lin, 3d MLG surgeon, CCEP is the first of a triad of initiatives to sharpen the skills of the next generation of corpsmen in the Marine Corps.
“We will soon be initiating the second part of the triad to improve our corpsmen’s procedural and hands on skills by bringing them to the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa Japan emergency room for training,” explained Lin, “The last step of the triad will be focused on building our corpsmen’s first responder skills. This will be done with an emergency medical technician program, allowing our corpsmen to ride in ambulances servicing bases throughout Okinawa.”
Through this challenging training, Lin says 3d MLG is refocusing on brilliance in the basics.
“This is how we are going to build the best corpsmen in the Marine Corps. On the modern dispersed battlefield, junior leaders – company and platoon commanders – are going to rely heavily on corpsmen to provide care in austere environments,” said Lin. “The initiatives we are undertaking here are all geared toward building the fight now force the nation relies on us to be.”
3d MLG, based out of Okinawa, Japan, is a forward deployed combat unit that serves as III Marine Expeditionary Force’s comprehensive logistics and combat service support backbone for operations throughout the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility.