JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
The Medical Education and Training Campus Combat Medic Specialist Training Program, the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence Video Team, and the MEDCoE Learning Systems Branch received the third quarter fiscal year 2020 Army Medicine Wolf Pack Award at an award ceremony held Nov. 9 at the Blesse Auditorium at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, Surgeon General of the U.S. Army and commander, U.S. Army Medical Command, made the presentation.
Created by the 43rd Army Surgeon General and the 4th Chief of the Army Medical Department Civilian Corps, the Wolf Pack Award recognizes exceptional teamwork by an integrated group of Army Medicine civilian and military team members who have demonstrated excellence in support of the Army Medicine mission.
“You are the reason that many lives will be saved today, tomorrow and in the future,” Dingle said to the military and civilian instructors responsible for training the Army’s combat medics.
The METC CMSTP, in collaboration with the MEDCoE Video Production Branch and the MEDCoE Learning Systems Branch, rapidly developed a blended learning platform for Army combat medic training as part of the MEDCoE’s COVID-19 response.
Using Blackboard, an online learning resource used by many other premier military and civilian educational institutions, MEDCoE students were able to continue training in a virtual environment to protect them from the contraction or spread of COVID-19. Prior to the implementation of the blended platform, 68W Combat Medic training happened only in the classroom.
Through their innovation, partnership and collaboration, the team transformed the program curriculum, consisting of lectures, group activities, demonstrations and hands-on instruction, from the classroom to the virtual learning platform.
This included videotaping more than 65 lectures; converting workbooks, practice questions, and exam content to the online platform; and creating over twenty videos demonstrating individual combat medic skills and skill validation exercises for students to continue learning remotely. Many hours went into videotaping, uploading, and digitizing course material.
“Although it has not been easy, we have all become early adopters of new teaching methods which I believe created a revolution in our educational system here at the MEDCoE and at METC,” said Maj. Johnny Paul, CMSTP Department Chair, who accepted the award on behalf of the entire team.
COVID-19 forced the CMSTP team, comprised of military personnel and civilians, to think outside the box in terms of how the program would continue when there was a need to place newly arrived trainees or those who may have been exposed to infected personnel in a restriction of movement, or ROM, status.
To implement the blended learning model, both civilian and military cadre also altered their schedules into a two-shift system of work in order to continue their training mission in a safer and more tactically dispersed manner.
Despite the pandemic, 68W modernization plans also continued with a complete rewrite of the 68W Combat Medic Program of Instruction, and a refresher pilot course for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, or NREMT, exam was established.
Since the refresher course was implemented, 99.7 percent of students have been successful in passing the NREMT, saving the U.S. Army more than $1,000,000.
In part, thanks to lower attrition, the program produced more than 1,870 combat medics since COVID mitigation measures were instituted. Lessons learned through the successful refresher course are being used to redesign current study hall sessions and will help shape best practices for the Army National Guard, Navy, and Air Force as well.
“In this new environment you allowed and facilitated so that the training continues,” Dingle said. “Uninterrupted Soldier training, despite the added challenges of COVID-19, was critical in preserving combat readiness to ensure that the Army is able to deploy, fight, and win.”
The Wolf Pack Award is sponsored by the Army Medical Department Civilian Corps. Winning teams are selected and announced quarterly. Quarterly winners automatically go on to compete for the annual Wolf Pack of the Year Award.