Advisers from 3 bases converge for evacuation training

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jason Lake
  • 321st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Air Force and Army medical advisers from bases throughout Iraq converged here to conduct aeromedical evacuation training with their Iraqi counterparts May 18 to 19.

Medical advisers and helicopter pilots with the 171st General Support Aviation Battalion at Camp Taji, medics from Joint Base Balad's 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group and medical advisers at Sather Air Base provided training to six Iraqi medics from New Al-Muthana Air Base. The American advisers showcased aeromedical evacuation capabilities and flight safety considerations for various fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft.

On the first day, the Army's 171st GSAB flew into Baghdad from Taji with two additional Iraqi flight medics and the Iraq Training and Advisory Mission - Air's Taji base transition team's medical adviser, Army Staff Sgt. Eric Edwards. The Army "Witch Doctors" flew into Baghdad on a pair of UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters along with Iraqi Army Aviation Command Mi-171E Hip and UH-1 Huey helicopters.

On NAMAB's flightline, the Iraqi medics learned how to safely load patients aboard each of the helicopters and practiced loading litters onto some of the airframes.

"Training is paramount in the medical field," Sergeant Edwards said. "This was a great opportunity to get flight medics together - fixed and rotary wing, American and Iraqi - and do some cross-training. One of the flight medics from Taji, who never had the opportunity to teach before, enjoyed the chance to teach patient loading in an Mi-171 and a UH-1."

In the classroom, the medical advisers from Taji and Sather taught their Iraqi partners about some of the effects on patients in high-altitude environments, such as gas expansion within patients' organs and hypoxia, a potentially fatal condition that occurs due to lack of oxygen to key areas of the body.

On the second day, the Iraqi medics learned how to conduct aeromedical evacuations using one of the Iraqi C-130 Hercules parked on NAMAB. The six medics learned how to set up stanchions and secure litters to the floor of the C-130 after watching a few demonstrations from Capt. Reggie Brown, Maj. Ed Bridges, Senior Master Sgt. Marvin Howell and Master Sgt. Dejnekki Peyton.

"The Iraqis did an excellent job with the amount of time we had to train them," said Captain Brown, a 332nd EMDG critical care nurse. "They maintained safety while learning the functions of the aircraft, and they've planted the seed for future growth (in aeromedical evacuation capabilities)."

Sergeant Howell, the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron superintendent, and Captain Brown also talked to the Iraqis about some of the safety precautions they should take while loading patients at various points outside the aircraft.

"It was an aggressive training session, but the point we tried to get across was to always use safety when working around aircraft with aircrew and the patients," Sergeant Howell explained.

Col. Jane Hendricks-Vesel, the 332nd EMDG chief nurse who accompanied the medical team from Joint Base Balad and volunteered to be a litter patient, said it was a challenge getting all the units and aircraft together in one place, but in the end, it paid off.

"We've been planning this event for awhile," Colonel Hendricks-Vesel said. "I'm glad we had the opportunity to do this using their aircraft."