News: Practice makes perfect: SAR crew responds to simulated crisis
CHERRY POINT, N.C. - It was after 3 p.m. when a search and rescue crew with Marine Transport Squadron 1 got a call to respond to a logger in the Croatan National Forest who was trapped under a tree and sustained injuries.
Although the call came in as though it were an actual emergency, the Marines and Sailors knew that it was part of annual training designed to keep their skills sharp for the real deal. The speed and intensity of their response, however, was 100 percent real.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Woolley, a hospital corpsman with VMR-1, said he felt nervous with good reason. The exercise evaluated his proficiency at providing medical treatment during search and rescue missions.
“When I came up with the scenario, I wanted Woolley to be challenged mentally,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class John H. Nelson, a hospital corpsman with VMR-1.
Once on the scene, the corpsman noticed Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Rivera, a fellow corpsman with the unit, who was role-playing the part of a victim with several injuries, trapped under a tree. Woolley rappelled from an HH-46E Sea Knight, and got right to work performing lifesaving steps and techniques he had rehearsed so many times in the past.
“I did my best, and tried not to rush what I was doing,” said Woolley. “Once you get into a scenario, it gets easier to manage because you are acting on sheer muscle memory.”
Nelson was on the ground beside him, evaluating his performance every step of the way.
“I was looking to see if he was giving the proper medicine, applying the right treatments and thinking outside of the box,” Nelson said.
Nelson said Woolley did well at handling the pressure of a situation they don’t often encounter and he could see that his fellow corpsman learned from the experience.
“I definitely learned from my mistakes,” said Woolley. “Not only did the training benefit me, other crew members were able to learn from my mistakes as well.”
Woolley, who has been saving lives for a little over six years, said he doesn’t take his job for granted because he is able to experience things that a lot of military members don’t.
“I love every second of it,” he said.