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Saving Lives Here And Abroad

CHICAGO (CBS) -- To prepare for battlefront wounds, military medics are getting first-hand experience in Chicago.

CBS 2's Vince Gerasole has an inside look at the pilot program whose tour of duty includes Stroger Hospital's trauma center.

It's a violent reality when it comes to injuries sustained in the bombings and shootouts in the front lines of war.

The wounds suffered are not far removed from those impacting the victims of gun violence in Chicago's streets.

"Gunshots to the chest, and to the heart, to the lungs," says Dr. Faran Bokhari.

Here, they are often rushed to the trauma center at Stroger Hospital.

For three years in a pilot program, Navy combat medics have been coming through Stroger to better prepare themselves to treat battlefield injuries.

"They are integrated into the team. They do the resuscitations," says Bokhari. "They help us stabilize fractures."

"You're pretty comfortable about it when you get there but you never know quite how you're going to feel," says hospital corpsman Andrew Swain.

He's already served an eight month tour of duty in Iraq.

Swain says the experience is eye-opening.

"You would be ashamed in saying 'what am I going to do next?' You should be pretty knowledgeable about it," says Swain. "You've done it before, you've seen it and now it's up to you."

Stroger's trauma center will treat 6,000 patients annually.

Roughly 1,000 are gunshot victims.

"It's the best job in the Navy," says corpsman Konrad Poplawski.

He's yet to be deployed but says the training is vital.

"The smallest procedures can hone my skills," says Poplawski. "So when I'm out in the battlefield that can make the difference."

For learning to save a life here just might save another caught in the violence of war.

The corpsmen circle 15 at a time through Stroger for six week periods.

They are officially stationed at Lovell Federal Health Care Center.

The pilot program that started three years ago is expected to be adopted as an official training program at various hospitals nationwide in a few weeks.

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