CAMP PENDLETON — A group of 296 hospital corpsmen graduated the Field Medical Service Technician course June 24.
The eight-week course at the Field Medical Training Battalion (FMTB) introduces hospital corpsmen to daily Marine Corps operations through hands-on training and interaction with Marines. Marine instructors are chosen as trainers based on combat experience, rank and their infantry background.
The students learn a variety of skills during the course including weapons procedures, basic marksmanship, basic infantry skills and field medical techniques.
Sgt. Thomas Welsh, 24, and an instructor with FMTB said the students conduct up to four field operations during training. They conduct patrols and simulate reactions to events like direct fire and treatment of wounded comrades.
Welsh said the Marine instructors guide and mentor the hospital corpsmen. Welsh said 80 percent of the graduates will be assigned to active Fleet Marine Force units while the rest will return to reserve units. Welsh said it is important that hospital corpsmen are efficient in providing medical aid in the field because they are going to deployable units.
“A lot of the guys that I’ve put through the class already have gone to their units, and two months later they’ve deployed,” Welsh said. “I have a bunch of students in Afghanistan right now, and they’re e-mailing me and telling me about their stories and how I helped out. That’s my sense of accomplishment.”
Welsh said the training regiment for FMTB sailors is continuously advancing, resulting in fewer casualties.
“We do not have to deal with as many deaths because now we have these corpsmen that are well trained. They know what to do, they know how to operate, and they’re out there saving lives. Now we’re able to bring more people back alive than in previous wars,” Welsh said.