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Around The Fleet

Corpsmen Awarded for Life Saving Actions

Sailors saving lives

Corpsmen are never off duty. They have to be ready for whatever, whenever. It was a whatever, whenever moment that came one night while two corpsmen were relaxing in their sleeping quarters.

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Louis Bismonte and Hospital Corpsman 2nd class Frederick Ehlers, while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan with Embedded Partner Team (EPT), Combat Logistics Battalion 4 (CLB-4), currently attached to 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), Regimental Combat Team 6, were awakened by EPT interpreters. The men were told to grab their medical supplies and go to the Afghan National Army (ANA) medical tent.

"When we got to the tent, the first casualties had already been brought in," said Ehlers. "(The ANA) were making trips back and forth from the accident site, bringing back groups of the injured."

A civilian Afghan bus had crashed near the camp's entry control point resulting in 28 casualties, including the death of five Afghan civilians.

"We were working with the ANA medics to provide the first level of care," said Ehlers. "If (the casualties) needed a higher level of care, we sent them to the (Shock-Trauma Platoon)."

The ANA medics had just finished a four-week medical course offered by Navy corpsmen but were not expecting this final test on their training.

"Like any mass-casualty event, it was very chaotic but the (ANA) did well," said Bismonte.

The rapid and professional conduct of the corpsmen in responding to the mass-casualty event directly led to the survival of casualties, said Chief Petty Officer Charles R. Schaefer, medical chief with CLB-4.

Bismonte and Ehlers were awarded Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals for their life-saving actions.

"I saw the bus ... and it was near totally destroyed," said Schaefer. "(The bus) looked like it had been bent in half ... if it were not for our corpsmen, there would have been more killed."