The initial crop of trainees either stationed or employed at Arnold Air Force Base, Tennessee, completed the first Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) course held at the installation. The class, instructed by Tech. Sgt. Mark Friskel, an independent duty medical technician at Arnold, was comprised of six members selected due to job and mission requirements.

The Arnold service members, security personnel and law enforcement officials who participated received both video and hands-on instruction for several lifesaving techniques, including wound packing, pressure bandage application and tourniquet administration.

At the end of the training, each participant was assessed on his ability to apply his newly-acquired TCCC knowledge in a distinct scenario. Injuries that these trainees were tasked with addressing in these simulated situations included blunt force trauma caused by a fall, lacerations caused by a machinery mishap and massive bleeding caused by a shooting.

The goal of TCCC is to reduce the number of preventable deaths. In a 2012 article titled “Death on the battlefield (2001-2011): Implications for the future of combat casualty care,” Col. Brian Eastridge and his co-authors wrote that of the nearly 4,600 battlefield fatalities analyzed between October 2001 and June 2011, approximately 87% of these combat-related deaths occurred in pre-hospital settings. Of those, it was determined 24% could have been potentially survivable, as they were a result of either uncontrolled or improperly-controlled bleeding or an unmanaged airway.

TCCC replaces Self-Aid Buddy Care (SABC), an Air Force training that served the same overall purpose of TCCC – to provide immediate support to the wounded until medical help could arrive. SABC training consisted of two parts. The first was computer-based training, or CBT, which included videos and PowerPoint presentations that trainees would view on their own time. The second part was hands-on training scheduled upon completion of the CBT.

Friskel noted an issue with SABC being a lack of uniformity in training and information presented.

“I have been an instructor providing training for 15 years at five different bases. I can tell you each base had their own way of providing the training,” Friskel said of SABC. “There was no standardization at all, just a bag of items they saw in the CBTs. I’ve seen some instructors go very in depth and some rush through it just to check a box.”

TCCC instead consists of a standardized didactic presentation with DHA-produced videos, handouts, training requirements and assessment tools.

Future classes could offer a greater variety of scenarios more specific to Arnold.

“We can create our own scenarios to fit the mission and jobs that members would likely encounter day-to-day, because this training isn’t just for combat, it can be utilized day-to-day to help save lives,” Friskel said.

July 1 marked the official sunset of the SABC program as the TCCC training requirement went into effect on that date. All DOD service members are required to obtain the initial TCCC training specifically developed for service members no later than April 2023.

The TCCC training provided to service members is good for a period of three years upon its completion. Friskel said because the DOD-wide TCCC requirement is new, officials are still working out some details concerning the training.

The information in TCCC is continuously being reviewed and updated through lessons learned in combat zones around the world as well as in trauma centers and through EMS. Therefore, Friskel said, the training is proven effective to save lives.