When a person joins the military, they get lots of training … Training that is supposed to teach them how to handle a variety of scenarios. Even though they give you a primary job (in my case, Public Affairs,) they try to train you for every worst-case scenario, in the event that you are unable to rely on the professionals to aid you in your time of need.
Most of the training has nothing to do with the primary job they hired you for, but it may be the only help you get prior to be thrust into a difficult situation. For example, most military service-members have to have some type of first-aid training and some type of weapons training. This is because no matter whether you are a pilot, a chef, an infantryman or an office pogue, they’re expecting you to know how to shoot and help those who have been injured.
So, today I attended the Army’s Combat Life Saver’s program. (In the Air Force, we call it “Self Aid and Buddy Care.”) It’s a hard-core first-aid class that focuses primarily on what to do when your buddy’s been shot, burned, lost a limb or just had his head explode on the battlefield.
The funny thing about the class is that most of the stuff they teach is not designed to save your life, but it’s intended to help you save someone else’s life. (Think about it … It’s unlikely I’ll be able to tend to my own wounds.)
As I attended the class with my team, I paid special attention to every bit of it. Not just because I wanted to learn, but because I wanted everyone to know that I was paying attention. So that later, when our Hummer gets hit with an IED and my buddy’s body has been thrown out of the vehicle, and he’s sitting there immobile waiting for help, he’ll see me and (hopefully) feel confident that I will do my best to help.
Sadly, I noticed a few Airmen and Soldiers who were not paying attention in the class. Some were holding their head in their hands, as if they were bored. Others actually skipped out on part of the class. Still others, when it was time for practical application of the lessons, just sat on the side without actually trying to complete the exercises.
As patriotic as some of us pretend to be, it’s a fact that some of the people in the military don’t want to be in anymore. They are just doing what they are told until they reach the end of their contract/obligation. I’m not one of those people … I love my job and am planning to retire from the military, but there are a few people who don’t. Some of those people have been tasked to deploy with me to the ‘stan.
I thought about how likely they would be to help me if I were injured. Seeing their attitude about the training, I don’t know that I trust them to actually help. Even if they really wanted to help me, since they didn’t participate in the training, I don’t think I would trust them to do it properly. (Would you let someone jam a tube down your nose to your throat if they’ve never, at least, practiced it before?)
That was the thought I was contemplating today … Who do I trust while in the ‘stan? The answer is: everyone. From the highly skilled, to the highly stupid … If the fecal matter hits the rotating blade, I have no choice but to trust that someone will help me if needed.