WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo --
The Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Medical Group joined with the active duty 509th and Air Force Reserve 442nd medical groups as a Total Force integrated team to practice working together in crisis situations.
"This exercise was a way for us to examine our true TFI capabilities," said Lt. Col. Patti Fries, 131st MDG commander. "As a first-of-its-kind event, the key objective was for the 131st, 509th and 442nd medical units to come together as one cohesive team to efficiently manage a disaster and treat patients accordingly."
The scenario began with individuals who had brought a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device carrying a radiological dispersal device, or "dirty bomb," containing radioactive material in the form of cesium 137 onto the installation. For exercise purposes, the simulated bomb “detonated “near the base Deployment Center during a mass deployment departure. Adding to the exercise chaos and catastrophe, families and friends were also at the location to see theie departing Airmen off.
At 5 a.m., a moulage team prepared 42 volunteer patients from the Whiteman community, including 12 children, to simulate real-world casualties. The exercise got underway by 8 a.m., and ended by 11:30 a.m., according to event planners.
Specific exercise objectives included all personnel using universal precautions while performing medical care 100 percent of the time; field response teams initiating triage, treatment and transportation within 30 minutes of arriving on scene; and the patient administration team tracking the number of patients treated without errors.
"The most helpful part of the exercise was the TFI aspect," said Master Sgt. Gary Miller, 131st MDG administration team. "We got a great overall exposure because in a real-world situation all of the units would be working together, and you don't always know what to expect."
Miller further commented that it provided a real world visualization of potential exposure situations. They had no prior knowledge of what was going to be simulated as far as patient categories or types of injuries, and when they were presented with a new injury, they "had to go with the flow."
A total of 232 Team Whiteman exercise responders took part in the emergency response exercise. Fries said she is looking forward to the next one.
"Exercises like this prepare our teams for what might happen in the real world." Fries said, "We'll continue to refine our processes in the future to provide realistic and "whole Air Force" experiences for our team, while maintaining peak readiness for the mission."