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JBLM Medical Company trains for mass casualty response in Germany

Soldiers of the 547th Medical Company (Area Support), 62nd Medical Brigade, react to a mock accident during a mass casualty training event at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, Feb. 17, 2022. Photo credit: Sgt. Amouris Coss

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HOHENFELS, Germany - Soldiers with the 547th Medical Company (Area Support), 62nd Medical Brigade, reacted to a mock accident during a mass casualty training exercise at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Hohenfels, Germany, Feb. 17, 2022.

The readiness building event required medical soldiers to evaluate injuries at the accident site, triage patients, and transport the wounded to the medical clinic for follow-on care. Simulated casualties assessed to need more complex care were then notionally evacuated to a larger facility where they could receive a higher level of care.

"The purpose of this training is to prepare us for our upcoming deployment in support of the NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo and to test our systems in terms of our response to a mass casualty incident of any sort," said Spc. Christopher Orman, a combat medic assigned to the 547th Med. Co. "Today, it was a vehicle rollover, but it could be any other incident such as a mass shooter, a building collapse or natural disaster."

Soldiers were able to trade their uniforms for civilian clothing and become role players during the exercise, using fake blood and moulage to simulate real injuries. In the exercise, there were 10 casualties with injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening conditions that would require advanced care up to including surgery.

"I thought it was great," Orman said. "We got some actionable learning opportunities that we can improve upon."

The training was supervised and evaluated by observer, coach, trainers, or OCTs, from the 7th Army Training Command, who provided feedback on areas the unit did well as well as actions they could improve.

The OCTs graded the unit on their ability to complete mission essential tasks required as part of their evaluation before departing for Kosovo.

"I think this is the first time in a while that we actually have been graded on something like this, so it's always good to have people who come in and grade you," said Cpl. Brandon Boyd, a radiology specialist assigned to the 547th Med. Co.

"It gets monotonous doing it without any graders," Boyd said. "If it's just us going through as a platoon all the time, you can get kind of tired of it, so it's good to have an outside perspective."

The 547th Medical Company is an active duty component currently operating as the medical support asset for the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 29th Infantry Division, Virginia National Guard, for their deployment rotation in the Balkans.

Boyd said that working alongside the National Guard allows for a blend of knowledge, experience and perspective.

"The different perspectives help because they don't do this every day in the Army, but we do," Boyd said. "I think the cross knowledge helps us since they have real-world experience from outside jobs, experience that some of our soldiers don't have."

Boyd said that he's looking forward to doing his job in a deployed environment for the first time and is excited that the majority of the National Guard unit he's working alongside is from his home state of Virginia.

The soldiers of the 547th Medical Company are currently in Germany training for their upcoming deployment to Kosovo, where they will work in conjunction with the 116th IBCT to provide medical support as well as with NATO partners to provide a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all.

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