Saturday, November 16, 2013

445th Airlift Wing conducts disaster response training exercise

by Master Sgt. Charlie Miller
445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

11/14/2013 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The 445th Airlift Wing staged an emergency disaster response training exercise involving approximately 400 people here and at "Calamityville," a training area located just outside the base in Fairborn, Ohio, Sept. 29.

The exercise was designed to ready military and civilian medical professionals to react and work as a team when disaster strikes. Improving efficiency and effectiveness to save lives is the bottom line. Communication between military and civilian responders is imperative to quickly diagnose and treat the injured.

All three 445th medical squadrons: aerospace medicine, aeromedical staging and aeromedical evacuation participated along with wing personnel from civil engineer, force support, communications, safety and the chaplain office. Members of the 88th Air Base Wing, Wright-State University, Fairborn Fire and Police Departments, Bellbrook Fire Department and other community agencies also took part.

Dozens of simulated patients were strewn over a 54-acre facility operated by Wright State University's National Center for Medical Readiness. There, the wing's first responders and medical staff faced seven different disasters.

For the exercise, multiple disasters hit the center of Calamityville. Buildings were destroyed were destroyed by a tornado; a plane crashed; and explosions and multiple car accidents occurred. Firefighters from CE were first on the scene of each disaster, assessing the area, performing search and rescue operations, and providing immediate first aid before medical personnel arrived.

After finding victims, Airmen transported them to the triage tent for treatment. From there they were sent to the hospital tent for inpatient treatment or to the green tent to be treated and released. Medical support capabilities, the transfer of patients from the field to hospitals and air strips, along with the ability to set up a command post were part of the exercise.

"The flow of patients went very smooth," said Staff Sgt. David Harvey, 445th Aerospace Medicine Squadron technician, who was working at the triage tent. "In a real disaster it will be chaotic at the beginning before we get situated."

During the exercise, Maj. Charles E. Miller, AMDS pharmacist, commented about his experiences while working the triage tent.

"This is exactly what I expected. The exercise is going very well, patients are being moved through."

The wing chaplain staff worked side-by-side with medical and mental health to provide spiritual support to victims of trauma and those witnessing trauma. They also were available to console survivors of the deceased.

"We try and help make sense of a senseless situation," said 445th Chaplain (Lt. Col.) David Leist.

An officer from the 88th said the training was a valuable asset to her career.

"I have really been able to sharpen my emergency room skills," said 2nd Lt. Regan Will, a surgical inpatient nurse. "This is my first time working with the 445th and this is top notch training. Not being ER by trade this is helpful."

During the final stage of the exercise, AES coordinated the transfer of patients on and off of a C-17 Globemaster III. The aircraft was configured for medical evacuation and ASTS transported the patients to and from the plane.

"We are providing an off-site, real-world setting to gain understanding of the other [medical] units and provide the opportunity for all medical personnel to work together," said Master Sgt. Glenda Marck, 445 AMDS 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."

Jack Smith, senior program manager at Wright State's NCMR said that this was the second such exercise that the 445th has done at the facility.

"We want to bridge the gap between civilians and military for disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti. Any time we have the opportunity to have the military and civilians work together it helps break down barriers," Smith said.

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