FORWARD OPERATING BASE LAGMAN, Afghanistan – Soldiers from Battle Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, Task Force 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, conducted a unit readiness exercise at the newly refurbished Forward Operating Base Sweeney, Jan. 20, 2012.
At approximately 10 a.m., a simulated attack was conducted. Security forces on FOB Sweeney sprung into action, fending off the opposition forces, while others who were not repelling the mock attack began triaging the wounded – applying tourniquets and other life saving measures – before whisking the injured away on stretchers to the company aid station for proper care and evacuation. The simulated injuries ranged from shrapnel wounds to more life threatening injuries.
“We had a Mass Cal (Mass Casualty) exercise – pretty much a rehearsal,” said Capt. Arlene Ybarra, the physician assistant at FOB Sweeney. “The platoons all went to the CCPs – the casualty collection points – put them (the injured) on the litters and then our job, here at the aid station, is to get ready.”
The 1-14 Cavalry Regiment medics were ready when the surplus of (simulated) injured soldiers from across the FOB began arriving.
Soldiers must be prepared for all contingencies, no matter how unlikely. Medics are no different; they must be confident in their own skills and the soldiers must have confidence in the medics to be able to take care of them when it counts.
“As soon as we heard the call, we put on our gloves, got the IVs ready, got everything prepped and waited around the tables for the casualties to come in,” Ybarra said.
When the medic platoon started to receive the mock-injured soldiers, there were simulated wounds of varying degrees, which challenged the medics’ abilities to cope within a stressful situation and maintain their composure. The medics responded admirably, treating all the patients in an expedient manner before moving them to the helicopter-landing zone for a simulated medical evacuation.
“All in all, we had 2 U.S. and 4 ANA. We brought them into the aid station, put them in their triage categories from immediate to expectant … and worked on them,” said Staff Sgt. Sancar Fredsti, the aid station non-commissioned officer in charge. “Everything went pretty good.”
Should a real emergency occur, these medics will be prepared.
“Before we ever get anybody in, you always have to rehearse,” said Ybarra. “We’ve been rehearsing already, so we kind of know how to work already.”
The point of a mass casualty exercise is learning to treat soldiers, to prepare for the worst-case scenario, no matter how unlikely.