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48th Med Group train in realistic exercise

Story by Airman 1st Class Christopher Sparks

48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The air is dense with a mixture of fear and stress. It’s cold and brisk with an unrelenting breeze slowly numbing the feeling in their hands and feet. The cries for help from patients seem to quietly echo around the parking lot while the blood from their injuries slowly stains the ground.

Two Airmen quickly moved from patient to patient, focusing on their injuries and providing care.

With each passing minute the number of patients needing care seems to exponentially increase. An overwhelming feeling of uncertainty begin to grasp the two Airmen who were first on the scene. The cries slowly begin to crescendo into a choir of screams and moans.

This was the scene of a simulated attack as part of a field training exercise conducted by the 48th Medical Group here Feb 21.

During the exercise participants were tasked to respond to a mass casualty chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive scenario. They had to coordinate between different squadrons to address time sensitive scenarios and simulated injuries.

Once the exercise started, the first to arrive on scene was the ambulance crew. They were tasked with rendering care to those with simulated injuries. Starting with only a few, the crew began assisting the patients, but the number slowly grew as a new patients with varying injuries appeared every two minutes.

“That was initially the point,” said Capt. Shawn Banion, 48th Medical Group Wing Inspection Team lead. “We wanted to get them into an environment where there was chaos and they would have to manage that chaos. It was about as realistic as we could make it.”

To help respond to the incident, the field response team comprising of medics, doctors, nurses and the ambulance crew worked together to tend to the simulated patients. A variety of Airmen, including enlisted members and officers, joined forces throughout the training.

“Getting more involvement in the exercise from junior Airmen and interaction with senior leadership out in the field will definitely payoff for the Air Force in the long term,” Banion said.

Once the patients were all safely transported to the hospital, the 48th Bioenvironmental Flight sent in a team to survey and identify possible simulated radiological threats. For the 48th BEF, it was a great opportunity to practice their response capabilities and to sharpen their skills.

“Exercising is 100 percent vital to responding to real-world situations and making sure we are able to perform the way we are supposed to,” said Master Sgt. Chadwick Kinser, 48th BEF flight chief. “Tabletop exercises can only get you so far. Saying, ‘Yes, we can handle that capability,’ is one thing, but if you are able to demonstrate it you show people that they can count on you to do your part.”

The 48th Medical group plans to conduct more exercises throughout the year, with the next one scheduled later this spring.

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