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Hawaii Airmen enhance disaster preparedness at MEDCAP exercise

Tech. Sgt. Andrew Vierra Villanueva, center, a load master with the 204th Airlift Squadron conducts a preflight safety briefing on board a C-17 Globemaster to airmen from the 154th Medical Group, Detachment 1, Hawaii Air National Guard,  at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Jan. 26, 2018.

Tech. Sgt. Andrew Vierra Villanueva, center, a load master with the 204th Airlift Squadron conducts a preflight safety briefing on board a C-17 Globemaster to airmen from the 154th Medical Group, Detachment 1, Hawaii Air National Guard, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Jan. 26, 2018. The medical airmen were headed to Nevada to facilitate a FEMA region 9 field training exercise with partners from the California and Nevada Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Orlando Corpuz)

Senior Airman Nicklaus Young an aerospace medical technician with the  Detachment 1, 154th Medical Group, dons his gas mask at a Medical Capabilities exercise held in North Las Vegas, Jan. 27, 2018.

Senior Airman Nicklaus Young an aerospace medical technician with the Detachment 1, 154th Medical Group, dons his gas mask at a Medical Capabilities exercise held in North Las Vegas, Jan. 27, 2018. During the exercise Air National Guard medical units from Hawaii, California, and Nevada practiced the skills and procedures needed during a coordinated emergency response involving the FEMA region 9 partners. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Orlando Corpuz)

Airmen from the 154th Medical Group, Detachment 1, board a C-17 Globemaster III assigned to the 204th Airlift Squadron,  Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Jan. 26, 2018.

Airmen from the 154th Medical Group, Detachment 1, board a C-17 Globemaster III assigned to the 204th Airlift Squadron, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Jan. 26, 2018. The medical airmen were headed to Nevada to facilitate a FEMA region 9 field training exercise with partners from the California and Nevada Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Sanders Sandoval)

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Approximately 40 members of the Hawaii Air National Guard Detachment 1, 154th Medical Group travelled to Nevada to lead a medical capabilities (MEDCAP) exercise Jan. 26 to Feb. 2.

The exercise was conducted with counterparts from the Nevada Air National Guard and California Air National Guard and was designed to validate the capabilities of participating medical units.

Hawaii, California and Nevada are partners in Federal Emergency Management Agency region nine. The exercise marked the first time the three region nine partners were able to train together at the same time.

“It’s very rare that we get these opportunities to work together and focus specifically on medical capabilities,” said Lt. Col. James Faumuina, Detachment 1 commander. “This is an excellent opportunity for us to practice how we can respond in support of a civilian incident.”

One of the many objectives of the exercise was to evaluate the procedures that would be employed when assisting civilian authorities and organizations with domestic disaster response.

“The key with our capability is that our Airmen are qualified to work within a civilian incident,” Faumuina said. “They can integrate with many parts of the civilian emergency response system.”

According to Faumuina, recent natural disasters brought a re-focus on military civilian support to authorities.

“If you look at what happened just recently in Puerto Rico, many of the resources coming into territory were coming in from far away,” Faumuina said. “We can plug into the incident response to enhance the response capability. In Hawaii, we need to have these capabilities since we are so far away.”

Two primary locations were utilized during the training events. Search and Extraction Rescue training was facilitated at Federal Fire Department facilities at Nellis Air Force Base, while classroom instruction and certification courses were held at the North Las Vegas Readiness Center.