When 3rd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Duncan arrived at Fort Leonard Wood three years ago, he brought something with him that’s become a daily routine for the trainees, cadre, drill sergeants and command team leadership across the battalion.
“It’s something I learned from my experience being a drill sergeant at Fort Benning, Georgia,” Duncan said. “It’s something that we practiced there that I brought here.”
Referred to as the Man-Down Drill, the idea is simple: Soldiers are taught through repetition to shout “Man Down!” three times when they see something wrong or a fellow Soldier in danger. When another Soldier hears the phrase, he or she repeats it. The echo effect brings more attention to the situation and the corresponding help needed.
“Our greatest resource is our people and we need everyone to be proactive in protecting each other from injury or harm,” Duncan added. “It’s a uniformed way to treat a casualty without the requirement of a deliberate thought process – a standard operating procedure that is understood by all in the formation.”
Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Matthew Mason liked the simple effectiveness of the drill and instituted a protocol where it’s taught and highlighted during the battalion’s Guardian Reception and Integration Program to all newly arriving cadre and company command teams and reinforced during quarterly cycle resets. He said the trainees receive instruction on the drill within the first 72 hours of arriving to the unit for Basic Combat Training.
“My guidance to the company command teams is that the drill is incorporated into daily training schedules to allow time for dedicated rehearsals by trainees and drill sergeants,” he said. “It’s easy to learn and doesn’t take up too much time to execute.”
Mason said while the drill’s most common real-world application at Fort Leonard Wood is for heat-related injuries, it is effective at saving lives in all kinds of situations.
“One of our companies recently had an emergency in the barracks where Man-Down was executed,” he said. “I am confident in saying, that due to attention to detail and rehearsals of the drill, a trainee’s life was saved.”
Staff Sgt. Maurice Lacy, a drill sergeant assigned to Company A, said the daily repetition helps build confidence in the execution of potentially life-saving actions.
“It’s very valuable,” Lacy said. “The more repetitions they get when a real-life scenario happens – it’s muscle memory; they know how to react to it.”
Lacy said he regularly runs his trainees through the use of first-aid equipment, how to dress a wound and properly put a casualty on a litter.
“In the event something happens, they know what to do – how to execute, so that we can prevent any further injuries,” he said. “We take something bad and keep it from getting worse.”
Duncan said the drill has become a best practice and is now taught throughout the 3rd Chemical Brigade.
“It’s my understanding that other battalions are now using this as well,” he said.
Sgt. Beau Brunner is a former Air Force Staff Sgt. who is going through BCT here and assigned to Company A. He said they’ve practiced many different Man-Down Drill scenarios since he arrived at Fort Leonard Wood last month.
“We’ve covered just about all of them: heat injuries, any kind of injury, falling down the stairs and twisting an ankle,” he said. “When we get put into a real environment where this training will be necessary, it prepares us to do it as if it was a normal day. When we prepare for things like this, it makes us better Soldiers and better at taking care of each other.”
Duncan said he feels the Man-Down Drill demonstrates one of the most important things a Soldier needs to know and remember.
“The drill demonstrates to the trainee to never leave a fallen comrade,” he said. “It has saved lives and we will continue to teach and refine this drill.”