Modules… swollen spear… and floor wax

home-of-the-combat-medic-corpsman-and-pararescue_mousepad_LOGO-MPAD-1_larger_1378527981_largeOur modules covered almost every imaginable combat related illness and injury that the human mind could conceive… We would learn about immediate first aid, insect bites, snake bites, sprains, strains and fractures. Next we would learn about shock, the different kinds of shock, how to identify it and how to treat it from becoming life threatening. We would learn about gun shot wounds, punctured lungs, tension pneumothorax’s, emergency tracheotomy’s and sucking chest wounds. We would learn about what the Army called “the thousand yard stare” or “battle fatigue” and how to identify it on the battlefield. I.V. administration, application and monitoring was also covered in the modules. The list went on and on. Lastly, we would learn about triage. Triage, generally speaking , was identifying the injury or illness, then treating the patient in an order of priority. We were told we may have to skip over a patient who couldn’t be helped to give care to a patient who had a chance to live. It was against everything we had learned thus far in training. The Army was training us, come hell or high water, to never EVER leave a soldier behind. When we started running early in Basic Training, if a potato couldn’t finsish the run, we circled back for him. For some potatoes, we had to circle back more than once. On our “exit forced road march”, a 15 mile road march in the Oklahoma summer heat, dressed in full battle gear with rifles, one potato sprained his ankle and couldn’t walk any longer. We had to carry him, rotating carriers, so we all could graduate Basic Training. The thought of having to let soldiers die bothered me. The instructors pounded it into us that we had to think in terms of the whole. Our jobs were to save who we could and sometimes, under fire, split second decisions saved lives. They spent a lot of time on the mechanics of triage and evacuation.

As the weeks went by, the modules became more and more difficult for me. The first module covered scrapes and minor injuries. To me it was common sense. Shock, I.V.’s and CPR weren’t common sense. I had to pay attention in class, stay awake, then go home and study every night. For the first four weeks, while we were still on restriction, my weekends were spent studying and trying not to notice females. The “soft peter” that the Army” supposedly” used in our food to restrain libido was a thing of Basic Training. Here, in Medic School, every time the wind blew… the blood rushed to below my waste and I would have to adjust my underwear. Especially during stretching in the mornings. It was becoming difficult for me to go all the way down during push ups with out me stabbing ants in the dirt from my … swollen spear.

We found out during week three that only one platoon, out of the four platoons in our company, would be getting a weekend pass after the fourth week. This platoon would be chosen by our C.O. (company commander or Commanding Officer). The C.O. told us the platoon with the best looking barracks would be given pass. Again, we had to earn it. We were given our cleaning supplies each week, and our Cadre assigned a soldier to monitor the supply closet. It was his job (females had their own barracks) to inform Cadre if supplies were low. Only G.I. supplies were to be used. All other supplies are considered contraband and if we were caught with contraband… God help us. I don’t know whose idea it was to invest in Grade A flammable floor wax, but we voted on it as a platoon (the men) and we voted unanimously to use it. It seemed I wasn’t the only soldier who was having swollen spear problems. Above our supply closet, holding the G.I. supplies we got from Cadre, was a drop ceiling. We would keep our flaming floor wax up there, above the tiles and out of sight. This was such a brilliant plan we couldn’t help but to talk shit to the other platoons. Married soldiers had their wives/husbands come in for our weekend, and they stood on stand by waiting for the results to come in. There was a little blonde medic from Missouri who always smiled at me during our lunch chow. I was gonna ask her to get a slice of pizza with me. We could all smell the freedom…

The day of inspection came and we had a few hours to clean, sweep, mop then buff the floors. Our latrine, bunks, wall lockers and foot lockers would all be a part of our inspection. We would have to stand in our Class A uniforms, also subject to inspection, side by side by our bunks at the position of attention as the C.O. and Command Sergeant Major (highest ranking enlisted N.C.O.)  inspected everything. Our squad leaders, platoon sergeants and Cadre would follow the inspectors writing down names and gigs. We were not afraid. Our floor wax had to be lit on fire, hence the name flaming floor wax, in order to liquefy it. Once it became liquid, it was poured on the floor then mopped evenly until it dried. Once the wax dried, the buffer would shine the wax on the floor. Our floor looked like a fucking mirror. As the inspectors came by my bunk, they looked at my uniform, asked me questions about CPR, and gave an up/down  look over of my wall locker. I overheard our C.O. tell the C.S.M. how immaculate our barracks looked. We had this locked. I could smell the blondes hair mixed with pizza already. We all felt safe because our contraband supplies were in the ceiling grid, out of the sight of inspectors and Cadre.

As we gathered to form up in formation, we were giddy. We were jumping and skipping into formation. Our platoon Sgt. and squad leaders were high fiving each other. We came to the position of attention, stood in formation and the C.S.M. turned over the Battalion to the C.O. to address us. We were not shocked to learn we won the Inspection. We were not shocked to see our Cadre Sgt. look at us with pride. What did shock us was the loud CRASH sound that came from our barracks door. As it turned out, the soldier who put the contraband in the ceiling hit a valve handle causing water to flow freely onto our ceiling grid tiles, soaking them, and causing them to collapse. The collapse exposed the contraband floor wax, some porn magazines and a shitload of apples. We later learned our supply man was taking a little bit of cash to store all kinds of contraband in the ceiling. I knew who was hiding the fucking apples…. but who ever had the porn magazines wasn’t sharing them.

Needless to say, our weekend didn’t turn out the way we expected. We spent the weekend running, pushing dirt and doing pop outs. The cute blonde lost her smile too… the females didn’t use any contraband and they were now looking at us as only angry women can look at stupid men..

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