The Bayonet

Tuesday, Jun. 03, 2014

198th Infantry Brigade ready for hot summer

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The hot and humid Georgia summers are hard on everyone and the 198th Infantry Brigade is an example of one of the many units at Fort Benning that is prepared to beat the heat and reduce the number of heat casualties within its ranks.

"We have people from all walks of life and different parts of the country coming here, so we have to be prepared," said 198th Infantry Brigade assistant S-3 Master Sgt. Jeremy Hare.

Although some people might think that training changes during the summer months, Hare said the opposite is true.

"The impact of heat on training does not change the training at all," he said. "The same training is completed of that as in colder temperatures."

One of the keys to preparing Soldiers for training during the heat of July and August is physical conditioning, he said.

"We all know that being physically fit is crucial to dealing with all elements of weather and OSUT training," he said. "We use the PRT manual to the 'T' with getting Soldiers physically fit and slowly acclimate them to the weather here in Fort Benning, Georgia."

When it comes to being aware of the signs of a heat casualty, Hare said the information is passed down through the ranks to ensure that everyone is aware of the signs of a potential heat casualty.

Hare said the basics of heat safety during the summer months for OSUT Soldiers are:

• Everything that the Soldiers have done in the last 24 hours is written down on a worksheet so everyone is aware of the physical stress Soldiers have been under prior to the training event.

• Drill sergeants are encouraged to make sure their Soldiers are drinking enough fluids.

• Specialized equipment to help keep Soldiers cool is working and available for Soldiers in training areas as well as their company areas.

• Soldiers are placed into battle buddy teams so no Soldier goes anywhere alone during the heat.

• From the brigade level down, each battalion conducts heat casualty training prior to the warmer months for each drill sergeant and cadre member within that battalion. Hare said each company also conducts a mass casualty drill.

"Every day we conduct one man-down drill, so everyone knows what to do in case of a heat casualty," he said.

The man-down drill consists of Soldiers performing the basics of heat casualty treatment, which includes removing or loosening the Soldier's uniform, laying him flat with his feet elevated and wrapping him in ice sheets until medical personnel arrive on the scene.

During his time in the Army, Hare said he has noticed a dramatic shift in how the Army approaches heat casualties.

"During my time in the Army we have placed a great deal of emphasis on mitigating heat casualties more so now than we used to," he said.

"We never used to get any type of training other than a CLS class on preventing heat casualties."

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