More than 250 US military medics attended a joint exercise at the Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, with the 920th Rescue Wing between 27 February and 5 March.
The exercise was the fifth annual MEDBEACH event, designed to prepare military personnel for deployments by offering realistic hands-on scenarios they could encounter during combat. It saw the 920th Rescue Squadron work with active duty Air Force, Air and Army National Guard and civilian counterparts.
“This exercise reinforces the total-force concept between services and within our own unit,” said Maj. Stephan Grant, 920th training co-ordinator. “We try to mimic the most realistic situations possible during the exercise so our troops can walk into a deployment confident in their own skills, and the skills of those deployed with them.”
The Air Force said that the exercise saves up to $2 million for tax payers by having military members train other military members. It also said that this one exercise fulfils several annual training requirements which would normally require airmen to travel to several different locations. Participants will receive up to 60 hours of combat readiness medical evacuation credit and full-scale exercise credit.
An Air Force C-17 Globemaster III and an Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter transported battlefield-injured service members in the exercise.
This year’s exercise included the use of an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine. “The machine is amazing,” enthused Grant. “It takes a patient that would otherwise die from significant trauma to the lungs due to a blast, infections, etc. and allows the lungs to rest by circulating blood through an artificial lung and back into the bloodstream.”