Not many people know the history of CTOMS and why we got started. 10 years ago today, very early in the Afghanistan campaign, I had the unfortunate experience of being 150m away from a 500lbs bomb that was accidentally dropped on my platoon. It killed 4 of my friends and wounded 8 others. The post blast situation left me feeling quite ill prepared even with formal EMT training, even let down by the Canadian Forces for not providing adequate and appropriate training and equipment to deal with those types of situations. Upon return to Canada I took it upon myself, with the help of countless others, to ensure that no one was as unprepared as we were. We initiated the TCCC program within the Canadian Forces, running a pilot course in summer of 2003. That program still runs today and is an essential component of pre-deployment training, preparing soldiers for the realities of managing casualties in combat.
One of the critical developers of the original TCCC program was Craig, my business partner. He had been working as a TEMS Paramedic with the City of Edmonton at the time and we had randomly ran into each other when I recruited his help in the course development. We became good friends and incorporated CTOMS together with the intention of running training courses for law enforcement in TCCC.
I retired from the CF in Fall of 2006 and shortly after we were approached by the CF to run a pilot program for Medical Technicians in Tactical Medicine. The idea was a more advanced level course than the current TCCC course. That pilot was so successful it turned into mandatory pre-deployment training for all Med-Tech’s on their way to Afghanistan. And the rest they say is history.
That is an over simplification of the history of why CTOMS came to be. But the important message that I’d like to convey is that Rick, Nathan, Ainsworth and Mark didn’t die in vain, nor did the injured receive life changing injuries in vain. There were so many lessons learned and new training and equipment implemented because of that first event, that there are countless people alive today because of their sacrifices. It is a true shame that it had to take the deaths of soldiers and a ground up initiative in order to affect change in the system, but that is the reality of a politically driven, and budget restrained bureaucracy like the Canadian Forces. In their defense, when the true requirement was revealed, the right people in power positions did step up and change the system. The novel training that occurred has been validated countless times quantified in lives saved.
So today, on the 10th anniversary of the Tarnac Farm Friendly Fire Incident, I remember my friends that we lost that night, and I thank them for their sacrifice. I don’t think there is a better way to put it than my old Pararescue motto – they gave all so “That Others May Live”.