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Holloman Airmen receive Tactical Combat Casualty Care training

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Airmen check for life-signs on a simulated casualty during a Tactical Combat Casualty Care exercise at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., on April 30, 2017. The training focuses on individual trauma, tools, techniques, and treatment procedures. The exercise also included the use of moulage, non-lethal training munitions, trained role-players, and a multitude of other artificial stressors. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Chase Cannon)

With a pop, whiz and disorienting bang, the action begins. The shouts of a simulated casualty magnify as the rapid teamwork of Holloman Air Force Base’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Airmen takes over.

However, this time they are not on scene to clear explosives -- they are training to save the life of a combat casualty.

“I did not think this is what I was going to be doing,” said Airman 1st Class Robert Frey III, a 49th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD technician. “I figured I would get some first aid training, but the training we received through [Tactical Combat Casualty Care] was above and beyond what I was expecting.”

The nature of an EOD Airman’s career carries with it certain risks that many others may never have to face. It is important that they have basic knowledge on treating trauma-based injuries.

“This training is a critical skill for EOD to have because of the high risk missions that we support,” said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Junk, a 49th CES EOD technician. “During operations, an EOD team is usually imbedded with an Army, Marine, or even a foreign ally unit to take care of any explosive obstacles that are encountered. Having advanced medical training allows the EOD team to be a force multiplier to the unit we are supporting because normally there is only one medic attached.”

EOD Airmen take their jobs seriously and always know that lives may be on the line.

“Being able to treat minor or even major wounds to the basic extent might mean I am the difference between someone living or dying,” Frey said. “We are not always going to be in a friendly environment -- we are working with explosives and accidents can happen. If multiple people were injured and we only have one medic, now we have someone that can help. We have a basic foundation to work with toward medical treatment because we need to be able to help our guys.”

Almost everything EOD Airmen do has an inherent level of danger, which makes their teamwork and trust in each other an essential part of their jobs.

“EOD is very demanding and you will be held to the highest standards,” Junk said. “Because of the type of work we are doing and the amount of trust that is needed, we are part of a very close-knit community that will always be there to support us.”

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