News: Black Hawk crew chiefs receive first-hand first aid training
Story by Staff Sgt. Bryan Lewis
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – The role of a Black Hawk helicopter crew chief holds great responsibility when it comes to the safety of the passengers on board. A passenger’s safety could become a life-or-death situation when they are injured.
Medics from the 2-158th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade gave first aid classes to UH-60M crew chiefs at Gowen Field Air National Guard Base, Idaho during Task Force Warhawk’s monthlong training exercise.
The High-Altitude Mountainous Environmental Training puts pilots, crew chiefs and passengers in unique situations where their understanding of basic first aid and medical scenarios specific to the terrain become a vital role.
“Every time we go on a training mission, there’s always an objective and I try to tailor the medical support to dove tail. In this case, we’re out here to do high-altitude training … which brings a unique set of medical conditions that they might not face otherwise,” said Cpt. Jason MacDonnell, 2-158th AHB physician. “High altitudes have low oxygen, and the low oxygen causes different responses to the body.”
The 2-158th AHB medical staff, that includes a physician, physician’s assistant, medical noncommissioned officer and two junior medics, relies heavily on the personnel at ground-zero when injuries occur. In an aviation unit, it is largely crew chiefs.
“Once someone’s injured, there’s a time clock, and one of the biggest things we’ve learned is that the faster you stabilize them and get them to definitive care, the better the outcome is,” MacDonnell said. “The first hour of care isn’t a magical one. It’s very simple medical care … stop the bleeding, stabilize them and get them out of there.”
Members of the Warhawk medical staff visited each company to train and reinforce the crew chiefs’ knowledge of equipment in the first aid bags on board and ability to apply first aid to different types of injuries.
“Every aircraft has a Combat Life Saver bag and a first aid kits, but if the individual doesn’t know how to navigate it, it’s wasted,” MacDonnell said. “Making sure the person at the injury point knows the basic things for first aid is going to help save time and get them to that definitive care that they’re going to need.”
MacDonnell and his staff increased the medical efficiency of their unit by empowering more than 40 soldiers with the capability to take life-saving actions.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to do our normal aid station and medic training, but also focus on this mission set that is specific to aviation,” MacDonnell said.