LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Hawaii, California and Nevada National Guard members conducted water rescue training in Lake Tahoeʻs challenging landscape with the U.S. Coast Guard and FEMA partners.
“This training is important because it is an opportunity to collaborate with our FEMA Region IX partners from Nevada and California and to continuously train our skill sets to be operationally effective,” said Lt. Col. Ian Beltran, 154th Medical Group Detachment 1 commander. “Also, our exercise planners coordinated training with the U.S. Coast Guard to cross-train and to share expertise. This is truly an event of sharing and collaboration.”
A large geographic area, FEMA Region IX encompasses Hawaii, Arizona, California and Nevada and has a multitude of landscapes. As regional partners, should one state become overwhelmed during a disaster, partner states could assist.
A key to this interoperability is a clear understanding of different regional environments’ challenges. While the Airmen split into two training tracks during the three-day June exercise, both groups had ample opportunities to learn new skills and put them into play.
At Coast Guard Station Lake Tahoe, participants practiced and exchanged knowledge on trauma care during a morning Field Training Exercise. Airmen and Coast Guardsmen hiked through mountains, where exercise planners staged medical rescue scenarios.
“The training on the Tahoe Rim Trail was particularly valuable, I feel, as it was both realistic and challenging,” Beltran said. “The hike had the effect of physically taxing the rescuers while providing an element of unpredictability, which could be experienced in real-world rescues.”
On Day Two, with Coast Guardsmen taking the lead, the joint team worked through water rescue situations on Lake Tahoe and engaged in high-speed boat maneuvers to bring simulated victims to shore to be treated and triaged.
“It was excellent to see the group integrating,” said Beltran. “This is only the beginning of our partnership with the Coast Guard, and hopefully, weʻll be able to develop this relationship further cause I feel it brings value to both groups.”
While Airmen toiled on Lake Tahoe, another group of HIANG Airmen braved white water rapids on the Truckee River several miles away with counterparts from the California and Nevada Air National Guard for swift water rescue training.
The course focused on the fundamentals of survival in moving water, swift water swimming, shore, boat, and in-water rescue.
“When I joined the Hawaii Air National Guard, I never thought Iʻd be learning any sort of water rescue,” said Staff Sgt. Daniellejordan Demello, 154th Medical Group medic. “It wasnʻt even on my radar when I joined, truthfully. We had the opportunity to take the course a couple of years ago, so this is a recertification class for me, and I’m happy to be doing this cause it’s a skill-set that you can easily see would be valuable back home.”