News: 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade medical professionals hone skills during training exercise
Story by Sgt. Kissta DiGregorio
RAMADI, Iraq – Green chemlights light the path for the field ambulance, loaded to capacity with wounded U.S. soldiers. Litter bearers rush to open the door and begin unloading their injured comrades, but not until Staff Sgt. Jae Haney, medic and non-commissioned officer in charge of triage with C Company, 407th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, quickly examines each soldier and determines his or her status.
“Bed four!” Haney yells as he writes a large number four on the back of the hand of an injured trooper. Infantrymen, tasked with moving the litters from the back of the truck to the aid station, have him off the truck and on the platform of bed four in a matter of seconds.
The medics and doctors assigned to C Company, conducted nighttime mass casualty training at Camp Ramadi, June 16. This was the fourth MASCAL exercise they have conducted since arriving in Iraq.
“It goes faster during the day,” said Haney. “At night, it’s more time consuming.”
The dimly lit or pitch-black surroundings made it harder for combat lifesavers and first responders to find and treat the “wounded.” But once they arrived at the aid station, the professionals go to work.
Each soldier’s vitals were taken and documented, along with their injuries and symptoms. An X-ray machine was carefully maneuvered between beds and personnel to check for broken bones and other internal injuries. After each patient was sorted according to the severity of his or her injuries, the medics, physician assistants and doctors discussed treatment options and procedures.
In order to conserve supplies, the medics taped materials to each soldier’s chest, symbolizing the supplies they would use to treat each Soldiers’ simulated injuries.
A surgical patient was taken to the operating room to be worked on by the 947th Forward Surgical Team, consisting of medical professionals such as surgeons, nurses, and nurse anesthetists.
“The FST gives us the ability to do surgery here,” said Cpt. Chad Cole, the senior physician assistant with the 2nd AAB.
Without them, surgical patients would have to be evacuated to a Level 3 aid station or combat support hospital. Having this capability will expedite treatment, therefore increasing the survival rate of personnel requiring an operation. They also offer an extra set of eyes on the situation, Cole said, which helps medics improve patient care.
The 2nd AAB medics, who inherited the Level 2 aid station from the 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, have tailored the layout to fit their needs.
“This was all one big, open room,” said Christian Leonbacher, a C Company, 407th BSB medic, about the aid station, which is now partitioned into two separate rooms: a treatment area and a recovery area.
The unit plans on conducting this training about once a month, with each iteration becoming more intense and realistic by having less notice of incoming casualties, more wounded and actually using the medical supplies instead of simulating.
This process allows medical personnel to become accustomed to working in their new environment, with new people, and getting more hands-on experience.
“We have improved significantly,” Cole said. “From triage, to patient flow, to the ability to incorporate the FST.”
Referencing their constant improvement and the gradual increase in the tempo of each exercise, Cole said, “We were in the crawl stage, but now we’re walking”.
Soon, they will be at a sprint.
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