Mass casualty exercise focuses on readiness, teamwork
By Staff Sgt. Oshawn Jefferson, 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 17, 2002
OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH (AFPN) -- The 363rd Expeditionary Medical Group got an edge on readiness and teamwork during a mass casualty exercise recently.
"Exercises like this keep us prepared for anything," said Lt. Col. Les Folio, 363rd EMDG chief of aerospace medicine and exercise coordinator from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. "We have three goals in any exercise: first is to be safe, second is to acquire learning that can be applied to any real-world situation and third is to have fun."
Before people deploy to this forward location from their home station, they go through a thorough checklist to ensure they have all the training and equipment they require to accomplish their mission. But with people coming from many different bases from all over the world, exercises not only serve as a refresher, but also as a way to foster teamwork, said Folio.
"We have active-duty and guardsmen from the U.S. Air Force, French air force, British forces and U.S. Army, who all have to come together in a deployed location and work as a unit," said Capt. Madeline Sumera, 363rd AEW chief of the biological augmentation team and an exercise evaluation team member from Andrews AFB, Md. "Team work is critical for our mission to go smoothly here or anywhere in the world."
The exercise was temporarily interrupted when the medical staff was put on alert for an incoming flight emergency.
"Mass casualties are unpredictable," Folio said. "We were in the middle of training for the possibility of a mass causality and we got put on alert. That just emphasizes that even though you are taught everything you need to know before you deploy, you have to stay prepared for anything."
One airman participating in the exercise knows all too well the importance of being prepared. She once helped with a real-world crash involving 35 children on a school bus.
"Anytime you have to deal with an injured person it is difficult, whether it's children, adults, family members or passers-by," said Staff Sgt. Angela Mitchell, 363rd EMDG aeromedical technician from Andrews AFB, Md. "So exercises like this help give me confidence that the people around me will be able to do the job if an unfortunate circumstance arises."