Medics train for the battlefield

Medics train for the battlefield

A medic from the 996th Area Support Medical Company simulates care during a mass casualty training exercise at Camp Navajo in Bellemont, July 25. More than 60 Soldiers had the opportunity to react to real-world medical scenarios typically found on the battlefield during this training.

BELLEMONT, Ariz. – Arizona Army National Guard medical providers and medics participated in a mass casualty training exercise at Camp Navajo in Bellemont, July 25.

More than 60 Soldiers from the 996th Area Support Medical Company had the opportunity to react to real world medical scenarios typically found on the battlefield.

“This training is important because it enhances the Soldiers individual skills in their military occupation specialty and allows them to see how their work contributes to the overall health service support operation,” said Capt. Ryan Morrissey, commander of the 996th ASMC.

The mass casualty exercise began with a 9-line MEDEVAC request which is used by military personnel to call for assistance when a Soldier is sick or wounded and needs medical attention.

“The training was cool because we used radios and grid coordinates to respond to the emergency,” said Spc. Paul Reilly, medic from the ambulance platoon.

The 9-line call was a request to respond to a convoy that was attacked with an improvised explosive device and small arms fire. Ambulances were dispatched and medics found 14 wounded soldiers at the casualty collection site.

“We were given a variety of different wounds such as amputations and gunshot wounds to triage on site,” Reilly said.

The medics quickly triaged by order of wound severity, called medevac helicopters for the immediate patients, and evacuated the injured to a field trauma room located in the level II facility that the 996 ASMC set up.

The Level II clinic had extended rooms with the capabilities of holding 40 patients up to 72 hours.

The trauma room had four treatment beds and as the casualties received treatment, military physicians evaluated and critiqued the providers and medics on site.

“Senior providers were making on the spot adjustments to care, so each iteration of training ran more smoothly then the last,” said 1st Lt. Mellisa Werner, treatment platoon leader.

“The senior providers also added to the realism of the exercise by directing the live actors with realistic symptoms of their wounds,” said Werner.

UH-60 Black Hawk for medevacs, live actors with casualty simulation moulage, fake blood, simulated explosions and gunfire were all used as part of their training and to help create realism in the scenario. At one point the generator went out and the providers and medics had to work in the dark with head lamps.

“We could not have made this exercise as realistic without the collaboration of Capt. Mika Hakkarainen, a physician assistant from the 91st Civil Support Team and the UH-60 Black Hawks provided by the 2-285th Assault Helicopter Battalion, Det 1 C Co 5-159th, Dust Off,” Morrissey said.

“The realism of this exercise was what made the training so beneficial,” said Reilly.

“Having the birds in the air with rotor wash pushing us to the ground while we were hoisting liters added to the training,” Reilly said.

“This exercise helped to evaluate the emergency response capabilities of this unit and ensure that in a real situation medical responders would be prepared to successfully take care of Soldiers in an emergency,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Pfeiffer, lead field surgeon with 996th ASMC.

“I feel if the President of the United States calls us up tomorrow, we would be ready for our mission,” Pfeiffer said.
The 996th ASMC is comprised of nearly 89 soldiers, which include medics, physician assistants, doctors, mental health professionals, dentists, and support personnel.

“A lot of the reason the exercise was so successful was because everyone in the unit was excited to learn and everyone worked together as a team,” said Werner.