FRANKLIN, IDAHO --
Approximately 40 Airmen from the Utah Air National Guard’s 151st Medical Detachment-1 participated in a training exercise and “Tough Blooder” race here Oct. 13-15.
This exercise allowed the Airmen to test their medical skills in a field environment, while building relationships with the civilian emergency responders that they may be tasked to support in the event of a disaster.
The 151st Det-1 is the medical element of the joint Utah Army and Air National Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High-Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP), which provides search and extraction, decontamination and medical treatment and stabilization during a mass-casualty situation.
“This is beneficial because it allows us to become familiar with their capabilities, and for them to become familiar with our capabilities and increase our interoperability with one another,” said Lt. Col. Donald Baker, 151st Det-1 commander.
The training took place over two days and consisted of an educational lecture portion followed by the hands-on “Tough Blooder” competition which was taken in small groups made up of four to five individuals.
The skills portion of the competition challenged participants to put their classroom knowledge to the test, demonstrating their abilities at several different testing stations, all while carrying a team member on a stretcher around an obstacle course.
Participating with the Guardsmen were their civilian counterparts from the Davis County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team and Franklin County Emergency Medical Services.
Steve Petty, a member of the Davis County Sherriff’s SAR, said the competition element of the training was very important because it helps to prepare individuals to act in a more stressful situation.
“We integrate competition into our training because it adds pressure,” said Petty. “Anybody can do a particular skill with no pressure, but doing it under pressure of time or competition makes it a little more interesting and forces you to be able to act and do it under duress.”
In addition to providing the CERFP members with the opportunity for hands-on training during a friendly competition, the event gave the medics in the unit a chance to complete many of their job-specific yearly training requirements.
“[At the Tough Blooder] we did what would normally take a year’s worth of training during drill time,” said Staff Sgt. Erik Bornemeier, a medical technician with the 151st Det-1, who planned the event.
Bornemeier added that although computer-based training and classroom education during a drill weekend can be a good way to present information, the hands-on opportunity provided by an event like this is crucial to effectively learn a skill.
“This exercise gives us, in a sense, as much real-world practice as we can have, using the supplies that we will use and going through scenarios that we might likely encounter,” said Baker. “Additionally, it gives us the opportunity to be together and develop camaraderie and the sense of teamwork that is so important when we are dealing with an emergency situation.”
The “Tough Blooder” race required the teams to demonstrate several practical skills, including starting an IV, splinting a fracture, securing an airway, stopping traumatic bleeding, cleaning and preparing a wound for sutures, dressing wounds, as well as carrying out a number of other required tasks and answering medical knowledge-based questions.
Trophies were awarded the next morning to the top two teams and to several individuals in recognition of their achievements in different categories during the training event.
“We really appreciate the opportunity to train with the Utah National Guard and to strengthen that partnership we have and expand our circle of friends and colleagues that we have in the emergency medical community,” said Petty.