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Top training for medical personnel

The SWISSINT Training Centre in Oberdorf, near Stans, is continually expanding its areas of expertise, most recently through the launch of its international Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) course for medical personnel in 2020. It offers a range of training levels up to TCCC instructor, thereby generating added value for the Army.

05.08.2021 | Master Warrant Officer Sacha Oberli, Course Coordinator at the SWISSINT Training Centre

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Staff Warrant Officer Müntener was responsible for providing the tactical medical training for the medical team of SWISSCOY Contingent 44 during the TCCC course

The Swiss Armed Forces International Command (SWISSINT) was designated a training centre for international Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) courses by the Surgeon General in 2018. Having established the necessary foundations and prerequisites, we first integrated the course into our training for the SWISSCOY medical team in 2020. TCCC is a process for providing tactical treatment to casualties in combat situations that introduces guidelines for extended, pre-clinical first-aid measures that soldiers, as first aiders, and combat first responders, such as unit paramedics, can use while in combat or other tactical situations. It follows a three-phase approach:

Care Under Fire

Care Under Fire refers to the initial medical actions taken while still under active fire, based on the concept that "the best tool in battle is fire superiority". The wounded remains engaged in combat if able.

Tactical Field Care

Tactical Field Care includes the initial trauma assessment by a combat first responder as a first stage, followed by reassessment and rapid trauma assessment once the enemy has been neutralised. This includes a more extensive assessment that may involve undressing the wounded, looking for any additional wounds – particularly exit wounds from bullet injuries – and administering the appropriate treatment.

Tactical Evacuation Care

Taking place during the evacuation stage, Tactical Evacuation Care can be carried out either by the combat first responder or medical corps, and includes measures to evacuate the wounded.

TCCC training ranges from Level 1 (for every soldier) to Level 4 (course instructor). At the SWISSINT Training Centre, we offer levels 2 to 4. Level 2 is predominantly aimed at the medical corps of the operational detachments of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Mine Action Command (KAMIR) and Special Forces Command (KSK) as part of their general basic training, as well as the military’s medical and hospital schools. Level 3 is aimed at medical personnel, military doctors and the KSK and KAMIR corps. We also offer the course to medical personnel internationally. Once they have finished Level 4, the graduates are qualified to act as instructors for levels 1 to 3 and must complete at least one course as an instructor each year.

In winter 2021, we held a Level 3 TCCC course as part of the specialist training for the medical team of SWISSCOY Contingent 44. The tactical rules of conduct and working with just one TCCC medical rucksack were particularly new for the team, but the special techniques we taught, such as emergency airway punctures at the height of the larynx in the event of a choking risk, and treatments for sucking chest wounds, were also challenging. These are not common treatments you learn when you are training to become a nurse. SWISSCOY paramedics thus benefit from extended training and newly acquired expertise, which they can apply in their civilian work or in regular military service after their deployment.

Our aim in these courses is not to teach these medical specialists to become tacticians. But they need to know how to work in a tactical environment, and have to be able to understand, and most importantly implement, the tactical leader’s commands. For this reason, we have also trained our shooting trainers to TCCC instructor level so that they can instruct participants in tactical conduct.

Every time a combat first responder comes into contact with a patient, there is a unique combination of circumstances to deal with. If the combat first responder understands the fundamentals of medical care and the specific needs of the individual patient under the given circumstances, he can make precise decisions on that patient’s care and thereby give him the best chance of survival. The medics require a good level of expertise and need to be able to think critically and have the appropriate technical skills to provide excellent patient care even in challenging situations.

Thanks to the support of Staff Warrant Officer Manuel Müntener of the Armed Forces Staff Medical Service, the SWISSINT Training Centre has already been able to train enough specialist personnel to Level 4 to enable us to offer and hold TCCC courses both in Switzerland and abroad going forward.

More exciting reports from the world of peace support in the magazine Swiss Peace Supporter 02/21