Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

December 10, 2010 at 7:05am

446th AES partners with Madigan for exercise

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Madigan Healthcare System and 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron recently teamed up to work together in a patient reception team exercise held at McChord Field and at Madigan Army Medical Center, Dec. 7.

As part of the exercise, Reservists from the 446th AES and medical Soldiers from Madigan simulated receiving mass patients from overseas that included providing detailed patient care and transportation from McChord Field to Madigan. The focus of the exercise was to establish a patient reception area as part of the Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense Contingency Hospital System for patient evacuation.

The role of the 446th AES was to provide patient care and conduct the patient hand-off from the aircraft to the Madigan medical personnel.

"It's a great opportunity for joint training," said Col. Jan Moore-Harbert, 446th AES commander. "We do these exercises to get a better understanding of the agencies involved and what everybody's roles are, so everyone can communicate properly and focus on giving patients quality care when faced with these types of scenarios."

The squadron has worked with the Army before, but this exercise put them in a different situation with a shorter time element and fewer assets, resulting in having to do more with less.

"We've conducted joint exercises with the Army on many occasions," said Maj. Peter Jorgensen, 446th AES operations officer. "But this one was shorter in duration and we had limited resources. However, it's good to get reacquainted with our Army counterparts and educate each other on our respective missions."

Major Jorgensen played a major function in the exercise.

"My fundamental responsibility as the aeromedical operations officer was to control the aeromedical evacuation activities such as supervising the execution of the AE process and coordinating AE activities to ensure the Air Force part of the mission was safely and effectively accomplished."

His efforts were greatly recognized by one of the main coordinators of the exercise, Lt. Col. Eric Tobiason, Madigan Healthcare System operations officer.

"Major Jorgensen and his team got involved right from the get go," he said. "The Air Force really embraced this (exercise) from the beginning. Major Jorgensen pretty much formed the mission from the aircraft portion to the hangar. We were tremendous in partnering with the execution and realism of the exercise."

Madigan and the 446th AES taught one another how each service operates in an emergency situation such as a mass casualty exercise. 

"We trained new Army personnel on how to load the aircraft, specifics on carrying litters, and the ins and outs of taking care of different patients and loading them on the ambuses," said Master Sgt. Pamela Higgins, 446th ASTS medical technician.

This training gives the services a better understanding of their respective missions. 

"It's really important to be able to do these exercise and work all the specific elements of training," said Colonel Moore-Harbert. "The Air Force has a better idea of what the Army does in a joint environment and it helps break the culture and language barriers between the branches, so we can work together seamlessly."

Overall, Major Jorgensen marks the exercise a success.

"I'm very pleased with the outcome and I feel all of the individuals involved in the exercise had a good experience and got in some great training experience," he said. "Most of all, it gave us the opportunity to learn from one another and develop processes for future events between the Army and the Air Force."

Those future events will happen as early as August 2011. This exercise is a precursor to a much larger exercise that will be taking place sometime in late summer 2011, said Major Jorgensen. It will involve all three medical squadrons from the 446th Airlift Wing and the medical units from the JBLM Lewis Main.

The Reservists from the 446th AES are ready for that challenge.

"This was a great training opportunity for all involved and I know the 446th AES looks forward to the next opportunity to work with our Army counterparts."    

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