BETHANY BEACH, DE, UNITED STATES
The Delaware National Guard Bethany Beach Training Site was the location of Operation Joint Response (OJR) 2016. An exercise that compiled the joint efforts of the Delaware National Guard, Maryland National Guard along with members from their state partner of Bosnia.
OJR 2016 included the 166th Medical Group, Delaware Air National Guard, as the lead organization for the exercise, the Delaware Army National Guard Medical Group, 175th Medical Group, 142d Air Medical Evacuation Unit, the 166th Public Health office, and the 166th Communications Squadron.
Operation Joint Response is a medical exercise which takes place every four years, a training opportunity for joint organizations. This year the primary scenario of the exercise simulated response to a category four hurricane affecting the coastal community of Delaware. The Expeditionary Medical Support System (EMEDS) and the En-Route Patient Staging System (ERPSS) were essential missions that
were utilized during this exercise.
The simulation included Guardsmen being deployed to medical tents to support an overflow of patients needing treatment not readily available at local clinics. Medical staff ensured patients were treated and stabilized so that they could be air-evacuated for a higher level of care at another facility.
Participants of the exercise were in place at Bethany Beach for the week of July 11- 15; with the actual exercise taking place on the 13 and 14. The week included training in multiple areas to prepare participants to act in their respective roles within EMEDS and ERPSS.
Medical Group participants received training in areas including: patient movement, trauma life support, casualty assistance liaison training, and needle decompression. Readiness Skills Verification (RSV) training provided nurses, administrative staff, and medical staff with preparation for deployment. Hands on training was provided for the set-up of state EMEDS tents.
The 166th Public Health Office provided training to participants to educate the population about harmful items located in the environment. Public Health also described the DE-TRAC system to members; a system used by the Delaware National Guard to track patients transported for air-evacuation.
Master Sgt. Todd Hughes, public health non-commissioned officer in charge, 166th Medical Group, stated, “If the governor activates us we would use this system to track the movement of patients.”
Additionally, medical teams trained on transport of patients using C-130H aircraft and Blackhawk helicopters.
The scenarios given to participants tested the abilities of personnel to operate EMEDS and ERPSS within a homeland defense environment.
With all of the missions taking place at once the respective organizations came together as a team to accomplish unit tasks.
Captain Jodie Cantey, clinical nurse, and Major Marion Every, medical readiness officer, both of the 166th Medical Group, played a key role in the preparation of OJR 2016.
Cantey described the joint effort of all organizations involved, “It was amazing seeing how everything came together, and all of the planning.”
“We all pulled our strengths together to make this happen, which was a key to the success of the exercise,” said Cantey.
Operation Joint Response 2016 has built on the progress of previous medical exercises hosted by the 166th Medical Group in 2008 and 2012. The vision of OJR 2016 was conceptualized in 2008 by former 166th Medical Group Commander Col. John Mulvey, joint surgeon, Delaware National Guard.
Lt. Col. Mike Pollock, medical administrative officer, 166th Medical Group has seen the growth of OJR over the years. Regarding the exercise, the goal of leadership was to become more involved in domestic operations by embracing the state mission.
In 2007 the state of Delaware purchased BLU-MEDS, a civilian version of EMEDS. Pollock, Mulvey, and Lt. Col. (ret.) Andy Hartnett were instrumental in acquiring BLU-MEDS by working with the
state for supplies and equipment.
Pollock describes how a system, such as BLU- MEDS, is utilized, “In case of a natural disaster we would set up a field hospital using state assets to support the Delmarva area.”
Col. Mulvey’s vision came to life throughout the duration of OJR 2016, which was hosted by Col. Peter Bickle, commander, 166th Medical Group. The success of OJR 2016 is an attribution to the seamless joint effort of participants from all organizations involved.
Strong partnership between the 175th and the 166th medical groups has continued to grow over time as members have worked together on multiple exercises.
“The cooperation to help make this exercise happen on both the Air and Army sides was tremendous. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for the support from both parties, and the dedication of the exercise planners.”
Exercises like OJR 2016, not only test the capabilities of participants; the skills of Guardsmen are strengthened by the work that they do while participating.
Capt. Cantey describes this sentiment in the following statement, “As a nurse in the military, I am thankful for this exercise opportunity, in regards to training and planning, and I look forward to planning the next one.
Leadership is already looking ahead to prepare for the next OJR, which will take place in the year 2020. Pollock stated, “We hope to improve our interactions with the Delaware Emergency Management Agency and the Delaware Department of Public Health to improve our DE-TRACS, increase the capabilities of EMEDS, and to continue to work the bugs out of the system.”
“The lessons learned from joint training will add to our knowledge base and ability to respond to the call of duty in the future,” said Bickle.
||BETHANY BEACH, DE, US
This work, Delaware Guard trains for Natural Disasters, by TSgt Gwendolyn Blakley, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.