By Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs
/ Published March 22, 2011
PORTLAND, Ore. -- --This past summer, Airmen from the 142 Medical Group, Oregon Air National Guard, participated in a multi-national, joint force exercise at Volk Field, Wisconsin, July 10-24.
The exercise, known as Patriot 2010, is the only annual joint training event sponsored by the National Guard Bureau.
The reality-based scenarios provided a joint training environment where participants had a chance to collaborate, and share tactics and training on emergency response, aeromedical operations and equipment.
Oregon Air National Guard Col. Clee Lloyd, commander of the 142 Medical Group, who also served as the commander for all medical personnel during the exercise, said the training prepares participants for deployments to the Middle East.
"We duplicated the environment one would find in Afghanistan or Iraq," Lloyd said.
Chief Master Sgt. Julie Eddings, 142 Medical Group Section Chief, said the realistic scenarios gave unit members the confidence they need for overseas deployments.
"It (the exercise) is about as close as we would get to the real thing," she said. "I think this gave us a lot of confidence because we had a lot of skill rehearsal evaluation."
Participants practiced in Weapons of Mass Destruction scenarios, Aeromedical Evacuation, 24-hour operations, use of computer mannequins and field testing of new equipment for the Air Force Evaluation Support Activity. Most scenarios were important preparation for Operational Readiness Inspections planned at the 142 FW in 2011.
"The command and control, as well as medical portion of the exercise would be exactly what we could encounter in a Phase II ORI situation, in addition to what we would find on active duty," Lloyd said.
Over 1,000 personnel participated in the exercise. Staffing included 250 military medical personnel from across the United States, including international participants from The Netherlands and Canada.
Members of the CERFP (CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package) Team from Mississippi, who are trained in medical response involving chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents, also participated in the exercise. Personnel from the United States Coast Guard and U.S. Army National Guard provided helicopter response, rounding out the total-force, realistic medical training scenarios.
"This training offered an opportunity to work in a joint environment with medical personnel both from the United States and foreign countries," Lloyd said.
Lloyd said it was a learning experience for Oregon Airmen to work alongside Canadian and Dutch physicians, and to see their perspective in managing medical issues and how they used their own medical equipment.
"It was interesting to be put together with another unit and come up with an active game plan within 24 hours of arrival," Lloyd added. "Blending both units together to make an effective force so that within one week we had seamless, 24-hour a day operation."
The exercise also readied individual participants for domestic emergency response, should a major natural or man-made disaster take place in the United States, he added.
"From a wing standpoint, besides the medical training which is extremely beneficial from Homeland Defense and for military operations, the esprit de corps and great improvement in morale comes back to benefit the wing in increased production and a happier work force," he said.
According to Lloyd, in one instance the exercise took on a decidedly serious tone. Four members of the Mississippi CERFP team suffered from heat stroke and required immediate medical attention. The exercise was halted while their medical needs were addressed, and the patients were stabilized and transported to a medical facility. Lloyd said the seamless transition between exercise and real-world response was a good lesson for all those involved.
"It kind of fit within the overall scenario in many respects," Lloyd said. "In terms of interacting with our own unit being set up as an E-MEDS and if we do get a CERFP team, it would be a good interface for the state in a disaster in that we have the first responders in the field backed up by the second responders with the full-up medical capability."
Eddings said in past exercises a lot of scenarios simply 'stopped at the door'. Medical personnel would respond to, and treat patients, but anything beyond initial response and care was simulated, including medical evacuation.
"In past exercises, there are a lot of notional things that would happen," Eddings said. "Patriot allowed us to actually see our contribution to an airlift by actually putting people on an aircraft and watching them fly away to more definitive care."
Lloyd said the program is a great opportunity to train, but also allows Airmen to demonstrate their skills.
"It was a good experience in demonstrating that we can effectively exercise out medical training pretty much on demand," he said.
Lloyd added that participation in the Patriot 2010 exercise not only highlights the 142 Medical Group's skills, but also places the unit in a better position to deploy in future overseas humanitarian missions.
"(We may be) eligible for an overseas humanitarian deployment hopefully in 2012," Lloyd said. "An overseas deployment like that would exercise not only Phase I, but also Phase II ORI preparation. It also puts us on the national stage as being a group that is willing to step up and participate in this kind of exercise."
The exercise was part of the Oregon Citizen-Airmen's annual training period. Of the 34 participants from Oregon, two were from the 116 Air Control Squadron based at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Ore., and two were from the 173 Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore.
Joining them were three Airmen from the Washington Air National Guard's 194 Medical Group, based at Camp Murray, Wash., and 23 personnel from the 181 Medical Group, Indiana Air National Guard.