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Disaster response exercise
Senior Airman Sydney Winnenberg (left) and Staff Sgt. Jason Thomas both 445th Aerospace Medicine Squadron medical services technicians administer medical care to a “patient,” during the disaster response exercise Sept. 9. (Lt. Col. Cynthia Harris)
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445th medical units participate in disaster response exercise

Posted 10/3/2012   Updated 10/3/2012 Email story   Print story


by Capt. John T. Stamm
445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

10/3/2012 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The 445th Airlift Wing, in coordination with the Wright State University National Center for Medical Readiness, conducted an emergency disaster response training exercise here and at the Calamityville collaborative training and research facility in Fairborn, Ohio, September 9.

The exercise was conducted to prepare civilian and military medical units to cooperate and react with traditional disaster responders, ensuring greater efficiency and effectiveness in the event of an actual emergency.
In the event of an actual disaster, response units would be required to work together. Rapport between these units is imperative and establishing that rapport prior to a real-world event is imperative for a successful outcome.

"We are providing an off-site, real-world setting to gain understanding of the other units and provide the opportunity for all medical personnel to work together," said Master Sgt. Glenda Marck, 445th Aerospace Medicine Squadron cardiopulmonary section NCO in charge. "A real world offsite event such as this is the only way to test and prepare for a disaster or deployment and to successfully meet our training objectives."

The exercise involved the 445th AMDS, Aeromedical Staging Squadron and Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, along with personnel from the 445th Force Support Squadron and safety office. Thirty-nine simulated patients, spread over three separate areas, tested the AMDS's first responders, real world medical support capabilities, transfer of patients from the field, and the ability to set up a command post. The ASTS exercised their ability to transfer patients from the disaster site to the airfield with the AES providing air transport of patients.

The scenario simulated that a quarter-mile wide EF 5 tornado traveled through the heart of Calamityville, Ohio. All structures and trees in the path of the tornado were destroyed, and debris from the tornado made the roads difficult to maneuver. The area of responsibility for the responders was a factory that produced cement products. Workers had very little warning of the approaching tornado, and as a result, few were able to take shelter. There were numerous injuries and an unknown number of fatalities. Utilities and telecommunications were unavailable throughout the entire town.

Personnel from AMDS and ASTS were responsible for assessing the disaster area, initiating search and rescue operations, and the triage and transportation of injured personnel to the flightline by ambus.

Master Sgt. Molly Blackburn, 445th ASTS medical technician, served as the superintendent of the simulated contingency aeromedical staging facility, where the ASTS set up operations to perform triage on patients awaiting aeromedical evacuation or transport to a permanent medical facility.

"The CASF is where patients receive additional treatment and we make sure they are stable prior to transporting them to the flightline," Blackburn said. "In this exercise we are stateside, but we could be activated to conduct operations overseas."

On the flightline, during the final stage of the exercise, the AES took command and coordinated the transfer of patients on and off of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft configured for medical evacuation.

Col. Linda Stokes-Crowe, 445th AES commander, supervised the up-loading and off-loading of the patients onto the C-17 and was very pleased with the performance of all involved and stressed the importance of exercises such as this.

"The worst thing would be for all the units to have to work together for the first time during a real emergency," she said. "We will continue to conduct these exercises with the help of Wright State. The results have been fantastic."

The exercise provided a unique opportunity whereby education and training courses could be transferred to a hands-on application, offering participants a more complete learning experience.

"This exercise is an extremely valuable experience, especially for the younger troops who have only had classroom instruction," Blackburn said. "They are learning a lot."

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