News: Be prepared: Urgent care, quick response key in training exercise
Story by Lance Cpl. Kenneth Trotter
IWAKUNI, Japan - The Robert M. Casey Medical and Dental Health Clinic, Provost Marshal’s Office, Aircraft Rescue Firefighters and the station fire department took part in a mass casualty training drill at the downed aircraft simulation building here Aug. 17.
The simulated catastrophe in the exercise was a collapsed building. Ten volunteers served as casualties with injuries ranging from cuts, scrapes and bruises to disembowelment.
The casualties were strewn about then building, some on massive rubble piles and others staged in the sweltering heat of the building.
The call for the exercise was sent out at approximately 2:40 p.m. from the 911 center. Station firefighters, ARFF and PMO arrived on scene to quickly assess the situation. PMO’s role in the event was to set up a perimeter to allow the emergency medical teams quick access to the victims.
Once the medical teams were on hand, they quickly set up an incident command system to relay information back to the clinic in regards to the status of inbound patients.
Station firefighters and ARFF pulled the victims from the rubble, placed tags on them to identify what type of injury they had and what state they were in, and started the process of transporting casualties to the triage center set up for the victims.
Doctors and corpsmen shouted out orders as they diagnosed every patient and figured out exactly what was wrong with victims. To add difficulty to the task, some victims were told to simulate unconsciousness or speaking another language. The victims were
loaded in ambulances and transported to the clinic. A 7-ton was also used as a backup resource.
The exercise concluded when the victims were brought to the clinic.
Clinic staff continued a final phase in which they brought in four victims who simulated several symptoms consistent with Ricin poisoning, a highly toxic natural occurring protein which can be inhaled, ingested or injected.
At the event’s conclusion, several clinic personnel evaluated positives of the exercise and what areas needed to be improved.
“Overall, the teams pulled together well,” said Navy Lt. Tatiana Morales, clinic doctor. “We were able to improve our communication. The Japanese fire department did really well communicating with us, letting us know what we were getting into so I could communicate that back to the clinic, so we could have care ready for the patients.”
Morales said an area which needed improvement was the
preparedness, whether it is supplies or manpower. The exercise was to test the speed of emergency response teams in the event of a crisis during on-base events such as the Summer Music Festival and reinforce regular training.
“It’s for both purposes, really,” said Keith G. Johnson, installation
emergency manager. “It’s to hone their skills … but it is also to keep them in a steady frame of mind, such as working together.”
Johnson said this training can give station residents peace of mind
in knowing the station emergency response teams are more than capable of responding during any type of event.
The simulated exercise also allows new personnel an opportunity to become better acquainted with their roles on station.
“It is PCS season for us,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Katie A. Zirkle, clinic emergency medical technician. “We’ve got new people coming in all the time, so we’ve got to get them up to speed as quickly as possible for events like this.”
The annual Exercise Active Shield also benefited the medical members who participated. Exercise Active Shield is an annual event which tests the station’s ability to continue daily operations in the event of a terrorist attack.
The training the service members received increases skills needed for medical preparedness in combat. The emergency response teams will be on hand to ensure they are able to respond to any situation as people come to celebrate during the festival.