News: Civilian air medics train with soldiers
Story by Spc. Jeff Shackelford
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. – With the faint sound of chopper blades whirring in the distance, a smoke grenade bounces into the dirt. Seconds later, with a pop it begins releasing yellow gas marking not only the landing zone and wind direction for the approaching helicopter but the start of the day’s training exercise.
Soldiers assigned to the 955th Engineer Company located at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and several other units including civilian air medics, conducted Casualty Evacuation Training at Base Camp Milpitas during Combat Support Training Exercise 91, July 19, 2012 here.
Capt. Tim Escobar, assigned to the 91st Training Division (Operations), G5 Aviation located here, said the job of the 91st, in this mission, is to inject the aviation aspect into the Soldiers training as much as possible.
“Our goal here today, is to work with combat lifesavers and to incorporate them into an aviation environment, both in establishing the criteria for Soldier care and to familiarize them with helicopter operations, also with smoke, nine line and other basic Soldiers skills,” said Escobar. “Really it’s to get these Soldiers prepared for future deployment.”
The air medics, from Mercy Air, located here, trained Soldiers to utilize civilian assets. Combat Engineer, Sgt. Joseph Jauernic, assigned to the 955th, said joint training is vital for mission success because of the increasing use of civilians in military operations.
“I think it’s a great aspect to have civilians out here working with us,” said Jauernic. “The civilian side has its way of training that is different from the military side. It’s good to know them both.”
Jauernic said the safety training the Soldiers received from the air evacuation team was very beneficial. Some of the key points were never approaching the helicopter from the rear and not backing up after loading the patient because of the helicopter rudder blades.
“You need to approach the chopper with caution because in high winds, you never know what is going to happen,” said Jauernic. “At the same time, you’re in a combat situation, so you need to move effectively and with speed, so you’re not leaving the chopper on the ground too long.”
For many of the Soldiers this was the first time executing this training with a live helicopter.
“We’ve never done this with an actual chopper so this was a good training experience for everybody here,” said Jauernic.
Escobar, who is a native of La Mirada, Calif., said the training conducted today was key because in a training environment like CSTX 91 there could be a real-life situation were a Soldier could be injured during a training exercise and the aircraft the Soldiers were trained on would provide the medical assistance.
“To familiarize a body of soldiers from several different units with this type of real-life operation is very valuable,” said Escobar. “The aircraft that Mercy Air used in the training is similar to the Army’s Lakota, they both have clamshell doors in the rear. Now the Soldiers will be familiar with this type of aircraft.”
Escobar said the air medics from Mercy Air were extremely helpful in teaching our Soldiers how to use their equipment.
“I think altogether this was an outstanding exercise,” said Escobar.
CSTX 91 is a sustainment-focused training exercise developed for units in Train/Ready year-3 of the 5-year Army Forces Generation model.
With many of the units participating in CSTX 91 becoming available for deployment next year, the remote training environment Fort Hunter Liggett provides offers rugged terrain, realistic training opportunities and living conditions Soldiers may face while deployed.