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    Medevac training increases preparedness at Camp Atterbury



    Story by Sgt. Rob Cooper 

    Camp Atterbury Public Affairs

    CAMP ATTERBURY JOINT MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ind. — I never saw it coming. The blast didn't come from outside their military vehicle, but rather from within. As the crew-served weapon my team and I were riding with malfunctioned, it exploded, spraying shrapnel throughout the cabin, turning three able-bodied Soldiers into three casualties. In need of immediate help and stranded out among Camp Atterbury's many training ranges, I clicked the radio for help.

    Within minutes, a military ambulance arrived on scene and immediately assessed the injuries: one Soldier suffered shrapnel to his arm, while I was wounded in both legs by a stray bullet. The gunner, however, was critically injured from shrapnel to his head. With little time to spare on driving him to a hospital, a Lifeline helicopter was called.

    The medics on scene quickly drove us to a rally point in the Atterbury wilderness. As my buddy and I were loaded into a civilian ambulance from Columbus Regional Hospital, I watched as the other Soldier was hoisted into the helicopter that had arrived moments before.

    Fifteen minutes elapsed since the accident and I found myself on a medical gurney inside the post's clinic. As I heard the trainers call "End-Ex!," for end of exercise, I sat up, removed my neck brace and walked back to the ambulance to high-five the drivers. This was indeed a successful training mission.

    As part of the installation's commitment to safety for all service members and civilians on post, Camp Atterbury's Department of Emergency Services held a training exercise mid-May to focus on providing aerial and ground medical evacuation capabilities to the ranges beyond the post's cantonment area. I was lucky enough to play the part of one of the injured, which gave me a firsthand account of what would happen should an accident occur out in the wilderness of Atterbury.

    The training was a coordinated effort through Atterbury's Emergency Services, Troop Medical Clinic and Range Control, along with Columbus Regional Hospital and LifeLine. Following the exercise, the people involved sat down for an after-action review, which gave each agency a chance to express what went well and what needed improving.

    Tim Barger, Camp Atterbury's director of emergency services, said that the coordination with outside agencies was crucial to the exercise.

    "Having an exercise like this makes it so much easier to coordinate services when the real deal happens," he said. "It's all in the planning. When you have [two separate entities] working together on an exercise like this, you start to see where you can make improvements and what you need to sustain. What we found out was that there was a whole lot of stuff we need to sustain, because a lot of it worked very well."

    During the training, one thing that stuck out was the immediacy of medical response. The military medics were on hand to assess and sustain the injured long enough to move them to a secure area nearby, which served as a rally point to load us from one ambulance to another. Barger said that communication between agencies, both via radio and word-of-mouth, went very well and contributed to future preparedness.

    "When you do have an emergency and time is of the essence, you do not have time to worry about who you're talking to on the other end of the phone," Barger said. "I think that exercises like this help us out in a time of need to make that whole job more efficient."

    Capt. Dan Bell, the range control officer for Camp Atterbury, agreed.

    "An instance like this can happen anywhere on post and we need to be able to react the same way, whether it was on [the Atterbury ranges] or on the north end of post."

    Bell said there was one major point of the exercise; to create a safer environment for those who train on Camp Atterbury's ranges.

    "If they get injured, they need to be able to rely on us as an installation to take care of them quickly and efficiently," Bell said. "Doing this exercise increases our performance if we need to do it in a real life scenario."

    While the training was a one-day event, Bell and Barger both said that they plan to hold the training exercises on a quarterly basis in order to maintain Atterbury's emergency preparedness throughout the installation.



    Date Taken: 06.03.2009
    Date Posted: 06.03.2009 11:33
    Story ID: 34478
    Location: CAMP ATTERBURY, IN, US 

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