Realistic training makes the difference

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Stephen C. Bailey
  • 301st Fighter Wing
Picture this: A military cargo plane carrying a team of scientists equipped with an experimental small pox vaccination crashed into the base exchange today causing mass fatalities and injuries, leaving a path of wreckage that stretched throughout the entire base.
     Now imagine this tragedy happening on a weekend when most response agencies are not readily available. This is when the 301st Aerospace Medicine Squadron steps in.   
     More than 70 unit members practiced a response scenario similar to the one above Jan. 8 to maximize their efficiency in handling such a horrific event. “We practice for real-world events so we can adequately provide immediate care for the injured, help in securing the accident site and by staying in direct communication with on- and off-base rescue agencies,” explained Capt. Doug Smith, 301st AMDS medical readiness officer. “Our training and preparation is part of our annual training and our unit mission – there is no room for error in the work we do, so we must always be ready to perform.”
     This exercise included unit members, 25 volunteer casualties and 15 evaluators who worked within the impromptu scenario. Response members performed medical assistance by diagnosing, treating, monitoring, and transporting casualties. Since a biological scenario was also a factor, team members performed their responsibilities in chemical warfare ensemble.
     “This was a great learning experience which helps keep us prepared,” said Senior Airman Stacey Taylor, 301st AMDS medical apprentice. “The taskings we were given were job specific and keyed to our mission and, although a few times we felt a little rusty, I know the work we did today can make the difference in saving someone’s life.”
     The exercise also gave its participants the opportunity to focus on communicating with local civilian response agencies including the Dallas Fire Department, the 911 call center, the Denton Regional Hospital and the Civil Air Patrol.
     “Our responsibility is in the initial response of being the first on scene, we then work with the host wing commanders, emergency teams and civilian agencies to make it all happen. It’s a team performance,” Captain Smith said.
     A few onlookers also got a chance to see the exercise up close and personal. Spectators, including some new Air Force recruits who were here on a tour, were able to see how the Air Force Reserve medical field members performed their jobs within a disaster situation.
     “Our people did a great job today – we demonstrated superb team work and a quality of professionalism that shows we can and need to be ready at all times,” said Lt. Col. Zoela Clements, 301st AMDS education and training commander. “ I am very proud of the work we did and even though this was just an exercise, we must be ready because tomorrow we may be faced with the real thing.”
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