Eglin medics train in mass casualty response

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  • By Michelle Gigante

The 96th Medical Group polished up their tactical skills recently during a mass casualty training exercise held on the main hospital campus here Aug. 2.

This marked the first iteration for the 96th MDG to include all their medical specialty teams together for one full day of training as part of the Air Force strategic initiative to develop multi-capable Airmen. 

“This training provides the opportunity for our medics to practice all the skills they have learned and be able to take these lessons downrange,” said Col. Brad Brough, 96th MDG commander. “We have fantastic medics here doing their very best to take care of people and this exercise is a great opportunity for us to get back to the basics.”

The exercise rolled out with a lock down of the medical facility and then a team of medics and emergency crews quickly rushed to the scene to transport and disperse patients to the appropriate care. A manpower field team identified the patients with signs and symptoms of decontamination and transported those patients to the decontamination tent.

“One of the efforts we are working on with the wing commander is to develop more robust and enhanced exercises,” said Karl Day, 96th MDG training instructor specialist. “In order to develop a successful training platform to ensure our medics are ready to go downrange, we are establishing what they need from the very basics.” 

Day further explained with a ‘crawl, walk, run’ analogy.

“Just like when you learn to walk, after you master that skill, we can add a little more pressure, say to run,” said Day. “We increase the level of stress and complexity gradually in our training exercise, so when our Airmen are downrange and something happens, they react, because they have the muscle memory built in and don’t have to think about it.”

The training also provided the opportunity for logistic teams to gauge supply and demand shortages for emergency situations.

“In real world events, we know having unlimited resources is just not the case and we must play to how we are really staffed, equipped, and resourced,” said Brough. “When it comes to capabilities, these exercises allow us to see where we are at, but it also allows us to see where we can improve at and that’s the intent of these exercises is to learn and get better.”

Volunteers from the 33rd Fighter Wing and the 96th Logistics Readiness Squadron brought their best acting and moulage to the training day to make it as realistic as possible. Other participants included Eglin first responders and Okaloosa County fire department observed the exercise.

“We are all trained to triage, but the difficulty of triage is it’s not normal, so we have a mentality to want to take care of everybody and do our best,” said Brough. “In triage if you have 25 to 30 patients who are all seriously injured, you have limited resources. It requires the team to learn how to determine who gets the highest priority for resources and that takes practice and goes against our instinct to treat everybody.”

Going forward, the 96th MDG plans to continue to host full training days every first Wednesday of the month, where one month will focus on natural disasters and wartime skill development specific to Air Force Specialty Codes. Whereas the following month will be mass casualty response plan exercises like this one to prepare Airmen if there were an incident on the installation.

One of the medical squadron mottos is ‘ready medics. 

 “If we are not practicing, we are not ready,” said Jeff Miller, 96th MDG, medical emergency manager. “You can never be too prepared for an event. The more training and practice the better we are to the 96th Test Wing and the community.”