In early October, Guatemalan Army officers and civilian emergency personnel strengthened their knowledge in prehospital medicine by participating in a tactical combat casualty course (TCCC) taught by units of U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-Bravo). A total of 20 service members from the Guatemalan Army’s General Felipe Cruz Paratrooper Brigade and 10 firefighters from the Huehuetenango Volunteer Fire Rescue Brigade took part in the training exercise.
The TCCC system “preserves the life of a wounded person while they are being transferred and treated in a health care center,” Army Colonel Rubén Antonio Tellez, press director of the Guatemalan Ministry of Defense, told Diálogo.
Preventing deaths by hemorrhage, wound packing, tourniquet application, airway inspection, pneumothorax tension treatment, blood and shock control management, eye trauma, chest seals, and techniques of evacuation of the wounded were some of the focus areas of this course.
According to Jonatan Abdias Hernández López, a firefighter in the Huehuetenango Volunteer Fire Rescue Brigade, his knowledge before this training was limited to basic first aid.
“This knowledge update is valuable and could be vital; at some point, we can put it into practice with colleagues in different areas of rescue,” Hernández told Diálogo.
Col. Tellez said that the training is essential not only to save the lives of service members in the field, but also for the public, since Guatemala suffers from natural disasters. For example, Col. Tellez said, hurricanes Eta and Iota struck Guatemala in November 2020, causing floods and catastrophic landslides. “A large number of trained personnel was needed to respond and attend to cases of injured people, due to the rains and landslides,” the officer said, highlighting JTF-Bravo’s support during rescue operations.
So far this year, including this training session, 180 Guatemalan service members have taken the TCCC course, Col. Tellez said.