Joint Medical Training at Hancock Field
By Master Sgt. Barbara Olney, New York National Guard, New Jersey National Guard
/ Published July 26, 2021
HANCOCK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Airmen and Soldiers with the New York National Guard gained real-world experience during a joint medical evacuation training exercise held June 14-18, 2021.
The training brought together members of the 174th Attack Wing Medical Group with Soldiers from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 171st General Support Aviation Battalion to better prepare the medical providers for casualty assessment and evacuation procedures train together in a simulated combat environment.
The setting for the medical providers was a “role 2” environment, which demands more of the medical treatment team for combat casualties, often providing greater resuscitative capability or even performing damage control surgery to stabilize patients before medical evacuation to higher levels of care.
“A role 2 would be a deployed hospital with limited capabilities that accesses damage control, resuscitation and stabilization of the injured,” explained Air National Guard Major Karen Marshall, a physician assistant in the Medical Group. “Most often, severely injured would be transferred for further care after stabilization.”
The exercise scenarios were very realistic, Marshall said. The goal was to provide the Airmen and Soldiers what they may confront in a real-world situation.
Portions of the training allowed the team to work together at the air base to physically transport role-player patients off an Army Guard Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter, known as a medevac, and bring them into the Air Guard medical tent for evaluation.
The joint medical care team learned to work together to monitor patient vital signs and make decisions for further medical treatment based on the severity of the simulated injuries.
New Jersey Army National Guard Capt. Gregory Sun, a flight surgeon attached to the medical evacuation unit, provided training and guidance for the casualty assessments.
“Our objective, essentially, for Army medical personnel is to stabilize the patient up in the air and make sure they are up on the standard medical operational guidelines to be able to give a good transfer of care to the role 2 (treatment facility),” Sun said.
The Airmen of the 174th Medical Group receiving patients is a critical step in stabilizing patients before onward movement to a higher level of care, a role 3 facility, Sun explained.
“The goal of role 2 is to make sure they can do a trauma assessment such as penetrating wounds, abdomen, stomach as well as amputations of arms and legs, or burns from IEDs to be able to transfer to a role 3.”
The initiative for the training event began with the joint efforts Soldiers and Airmen had built together during the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
This was Senior Airman Jenna Ford, an Aerospace Medical Technician with the 174th Medical Group and the 224th Air Defense Sector’s, first time having the opportunity to participate in this type of training.
“The training was amazing, Capt. Sun taught and refreshed a lot of content within just a few days. I have never experienced something like this before so being a part of a training like this, especially with the Black hawk helicopter, was an amazing experience for me”, Ford said.
Technical Sergeant James Lantry, an Aerospace Medical Technician also with the 174th Medical Group said, “The training that we received was very challenging and not something that we normally get a chance to do. We learned quite a bit about Army Med Evacs and patient care.”
Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Gabriel, assigned to the medevac company, had been providing COVID-19 support alongside Airmen in the 174th Attack Wing Medical Group. He saw the opportunity to train together and began working with his command team to develop a joint exercise that would provide value for both medical elements.
Colonel Roxellen Auletto, the 174th Medical Group Commander, said she welcomed the exercise opportunity and participated herself to bring her knowledge and skills to the training.
The past year of COVID-19 operations for the medical group personnel provided a strong foundation for the training shift to combat triage and care, Auletto said, and reflects on the willingness of the medical group staff to step up when needed.
“COVID-19 afforded those volunteers to participate in a real-world event that continues to be a success,” Auletto said. “This would not have been possible without the commitment and dedication of all those medical personnel that raised their hand when asked.”
“I have never seen a group that was so eager to learn to new skills,” Gabriel said.