News: Medics’ evacuation skills honed during Vibrant Response 13
Story by Sgt. Candice Harrison
MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING COMPLEX, Indiana – Alabama National Guardsmen, from the 129th Area Support Medical Company, 161st Medical Battalion, 167th Theater Sustainment Command, out of Centreville, Ala., conduct evacuation and ambulance training at Mascatatuck Urban Training Complex, Ind., Aug. 9.
The unit is part of the Command and Control Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Response Element that conducts operations after a domestic CBRN incident.
“We were practicing a scenario where we would evacuate a facility that was being used as a shelter after some type of an incident that would cause mass civilian displacement,” said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Pike, a platoon sergeant with the 129th, and a native of Wedowee, Ala. “Our job was to go in and evaluate the sick and injured and evacuate them out to receive a higher level of medical care.”
Keeping realistic training available for the medics is important, and during Vibrant Response 13 they are receiving that training. Vibrant Response is a major field training exercise conducted by U.S. Northern Command and led by U.S. Army North.
“Everything changes (from minute to minute) in a real-world scenario. Anything can happen at anytime, so we really need to be ready for everything,” said Sgt. Joshua Heard, a medic with the 129th, and a native of Ardmore, Ala. “We may have to search and rescue one day and evacuate the next, you never know what will happen so you have to be ready for everything.”
Training helps medics keep their composure while responding to an incident. They need to be able to maintain their bearing to help the sick and injured.
“It’s always important for medics to practice mass causality incidents because those are usually the most stressful and resource intensive,” said Pike.
While training helps the medics keep their skills sharp, it also helps them switch their mindsets from combat operations back to providing lifesaving and life-sustaining support to the American public in a time of need.
“In combat operations you are preparing yourself to be shot at, you’re preparing to engage something,” said Heard. “This training is more about handling the public because they could be your family, they could be your friends.”
Techniques may differ between combat and homeland operations, but the fundamentals remain the same for the medics.
“You still have a mission that you have to accomplish. You have a commander’s intent, which steers you in the direction that he wants you to go. The main difference is there is not a significant threat of bullets coming your way,” said Pike. “The medical treatment and the evacuation we do are very similar whether it is for combat or for civilians.”
The National Guard is well versed in working with local and state authorities during times of disaster and is therefore well suited to focus on stateside missions. In the recent past, guardsmen have focused much of their energy on operations overseas, now they are focusing their efforts back on American soil.
“The National Guard has historically been able to adapt to a combat situation as well as their traditional role to help stateside,” said Pike. “That’s really what this mission is, another way to be able to help right here at home.”