News: California Air National Guard medics train in search, extraction
Story by Spc. Brianne Roudebush
VOLK FIELD, Wis. – Air Force medics are trained in more than just first aid; they are trained to assist in search and extraction during disasters as well. Participating in life-like scenarios is one way they train to prepare for real-world events.
Six California Air National Guard medics from the Task Force 9th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) teamed up with the search and extraction element during the Joint Patriot Exercise at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, Wis. July, 2011.
They trained together during the two days prior to the exercise, learning how to stabilize buildings and breech confined areas.
“It’s unique for us to be able to have this training and capability,” said California Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Rob Weiss, with the 144th Fighter Wing Medical Group.
During the scenario, two buildings collapsed in a radiological blast, trapping victims in the rubble.
The search and extraction team and the medics donned full decontamination suits and hard-hats and entered the disaster site.
Dripping with sweat in their plastic, protective suits, the search and extraction team worked diligently in confined spaces at the height of a humid day drilling through concrete obstacles, trying to make a hole big enough to climb through.
Once the concrete barriers had been cleared away, California Air National Guard medics, Staff Sgt. Carlos Chavez and Senior Airman David Padilla of the 144th Fighter Wing, MDG, were able to make contact with a victim trapped in a car beneath a 700 pound concrete slab.
After several attempts to free the victim, which included using a floor jack to lift the concrete slab, Holmatro spreaders to create an opening in the crushed metal, an entry tool to pry open the door, and a saw to cut away the A-frame of the vehicle, they were finally able to get into the car and extricate the casualty.
With help from Pfc. Mark Quezada and Pvt. Juan Gutierrez, 3rd Platoon, 235th Engineer Company, they were able to carry him out of the tunnel on a SKED stretcher.
Chavez said that being able to suit up was good training because it allowed them to experience the limitations of the suit. The two pairs of gloves limited the movement of their hands and the mask and helmet limited their sight and hearing, he said.
After three and a half hours, the team was finally able to take off the suits and breathe fresh air, knowing they had successfully completed their mission.