News: Alaska Medical Detachment, Samaritan’s Purse conduct joint operations in disaster response exercise
Story by Staff Sgt. Megan Leuck
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — The Alaska National Guard’s Medical Detachment partnered with Samaritan’s Purse to conduct valuable training and provide medical care to simulated earthquake victims during Exercises Alaska Shield and Vigilant Guard-Alaska 2014, March 29.
VG-AK14 is a regional, tactically focused exercise designed to test response and coordination capabilities in a disaster scenario modeled after the 1964 earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
Samaritan’s Purse is an international relief and non-governmental organization that addresses the needs of countries that have undergone hardships such as food shortages, destroyed homes or natural disaster trauma.
The mission took place at the Alaska Medical Station in Raven Hall at Palmer Fairgrounds. Soldiers of the Medical Detachment worked with local agencies to evaluate and treat a large volume of patients with minor injuries. If a patient’s injury was determined too severe for the AMS to effectively treat, they would transfer the patient to the Samaritan’s Purse field hospital for further care.
Examples of patients needing treatment from the field hospital include: severe fractures warranting surgery, abdominal injuries, critical chest wounds and severed limbs.
The AMS and Samaritan’s Purse field hospital were positioned adjacent to each other to provide the most efficient transfer process for severely injured patients.
Dr. Lance Plyler, chief medical officer from Samaritan’s Purse headquarters location in Boone, N.C., considers this joint venture unprecedented in terms of a state government working hand-in-hand with an NGO in an exercise like Vigilant Guard-Alaska.
“We are honestly thrilled and we think it’s a great relationship,” said Plyler. “This is a real opportunity for us to engage in an exercise like this ... and really practice what we do so that we’re much better equipped and when the disasters hit, we know what we are doing.”
The field station involved an array of medical staff to include: trauma surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other types of physicians to include pediatricians, internists, emergency room doctors, and a nurse support staff.
Once the exercise concluded, the AMS had admitted more than 150 patients and transferred over 60 of those individuals to Samaritan’s Purse for additional care.
This training opportunity allows the Alaska National Guard and supporting state Guard units the opportunity to practice emergency response procedures in conjunction with federal, state and local agencies.
This work, Alaska Medical Detachment, Samaritan’s Purse conduct joint operations in disaster response exercise, by SSG Megan Leuck, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.