WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
Personnel from the 445th Aeromedical Staging Squadron and 445th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron joined Army medical personnel from the 84th Training Command, Fort Knox, Kentucky Aug. 6-7, 2021 for a joint force exercise specifically designed to increase skills in caring for combat wounded in challenging remote locations where traditional medical evacuation may not be possible.
Operation Serpentine Wall also included reservists from the 944th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, as well as local civilian partners.
Every participant in the exercise, whether civilian or military, worked together in consort toward commander, Air Force Reserve Command, Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee’s first priority, “To prioritize strategic depth and accelerate readiness.”
The events focused on streamlining three key trauma care events: airlift coordination, battle field readiness skills, and ground triage and transport.
Training conducted Aug. 6 focused on airlift coordination. Airmen from the 445th AES stabilized simulated patients brought on board a 445th Airlift Wing C-17 Globemaster III by reservists from the 445th ASTS and the 944th ASTS. The 944th ASTS aligned their annual training with the 445th ASTS to maximize training capabilities of the En-Route Patient Staging System (ERPSS) mission which isn’t available at Luke AFB.
In addition to the C-17, Army helicopters also played a key role in the training by providing medical evacuation support.
Lt. Col. Michael Policastro, 445th ASTS Critical Care Air Transport Team flight commander and physician in charge, orchestrated multi-service airlift training with Army reservists from Fort Knox.
“The development of this exercise is the result of ever-changing real-world tactics and real-world operative theaters. We began to see the need for joint-force training to combine Army and Air Force medical processes.”
Policastro said Soldiers and Airmen frequently deploy together and need to quickly adapt to different medical sequences and terminology. Depending on the situation, patients may be evacuated and transported on either a Blackhawk helicopter or a C-17 Globemaster III.
“This was unregulated training between the Army medics, AE medical crew and CCATT for integrated care coordination. Coordination of Operation Serpentine Wall involved true joint force command elements from Army and Air Force members,” Policastro said.
Maj. Forrest Holdsworth, company commander, 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, Fort Knox, Kentucky said, “The first time we integrated with Air Force medics was in U.S. Central Command. We had to adapt our processes on the spot while performing missions. As a result, we had the idea to integrate training at home before we meet in theater again.”
Holdsworth finds value for his Soldiers in participating in “tail-to-tail transfers” between helicopters and airplanes.
“Training with our Air Force counterparts is extremely important because the faster we work, the more lives we can potentially save,” Holdsworth said.
During the course of their annual tour, Luke Airmen serving in the medical career field, such as aerospace medical service and health service management, worked tirelessly on comprehensive medical readiness program requirements (CMRP) and Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), formerly known as self-aid and buddy care.
With a cadre of certified instructors, the 944th ASTS was able to train and certify 19 members of the 445th ASTS in Tactical Combat Casualty Care while training at Calamityville.
Master Sgt. Justin Sanderson, 944th FW air staging technician, is proud of the 27 people involved in the exercises from Luke AFB.
“They took time away from their families and completed hundreds of tasks. Nineteen people will be TCCC certified at the end of the annual tour,” Sanderson said.
The final training for the all members took place mid-morning Aug. 7 at Wright State University’s Calamityville campus. Calamityville is a training, testing, and research venue where military and civilian emergency responders hone their skills while building relationships.
Inside a complex concrete structure that resembles a war zone-damaged abandoned industrial building, service members participated in hands-on training. Each training station provided refresher information on TCCC topics ranging from trauma assessment and tourniquet application to radio etiquette.
After lunch, a capstone activity involving simulated battle field explosions and machine gun fire left 30 “casualties” throughout the Calamityville complex. Through high-pressure battlefield simulations, service members acted quickly using their existing skillsets. “Casualties” were made to appear injured through the use of prosthetics and makeup, and coached to exhibit symptoms including shock, lacerations, blunt force trauma and numerous other injuries.
Col. Roberta Stemen, 445th ASTS commander, is proud of of her Airmen’s hard work and the success of the training.
“My vision was clear and concise. We need to train to deploy and what we’ve done this weekend is remarkable,” Stemen said.