FORT A.P. HILL, Va. -- U.S. Army Garrison Fort A.P. Hill and the Explosive Ordnance Disposal School held a Medical Evacuation Functional Exercise on June 12 to test the post's ability to respond, triage and evacuate victims of a training accident.

Thousands of Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and other federal agencies use Fort A.P. Hill's ranges and training areas throughout the year for realistic live-fire training.

Military training is dangerous and even with the most-stringent safety procedures in place, accidents happen and result in injuries, sometimes severe. Key to a casualty's survival is prompt medical care and evacuation to a hospital.

The exercise scenario called for an EOD School vehicle roll-over that resulted in three casualties--two with serious injuries, the third suffered a life-threatening injury. The injured weren't Soldiers but live-size mannequins with realistic injuries.

EOD School instructor Sgt. 1st Class Tomas Centeno was on the scene and provided immediate first aid to the victims until combat medics Sgt. Dennie O'Connell and Staff Sgt. Roberto Loo arrived.

O'Connell moved deftly among the injured, examining their injuries and assuring them that they'd be all right. She determined one patient had a life-threatening injury and said he had to be evacuated immediately.

Loo helped her load the patient in an ambulance and drove to a nearby landing zone to wait for the civilian medical evacuation helicopter to arrive.

As she waited with her patient O'Connell learned she had to move to another landing zone. EOD instructor Sgt. 1st Class Justin Talbert helped O'Connell load her patient into the bed of his pick-up truck and they drove to the new landing zone.

Soon a Eurocopter 130 flown by Life Evac Virginia appeared and landed. Flight Nurse Randy Ison and Flight Paramedic Andrew Modrall left the helicopter and joined O'Connell and Talbert.

O'Connell apprised them of the patient's injuries and Ison and Modrall went to work, attaching a heart monitor and starting an intravenous solution. When the patient was ready, the four carried him to the helicopter and loaded him for transport.

The helicopter flew a brief pattern to simulate taking the patient to the nearest trauma center and then landed and unloaded the patient.

By that time, first responders had moved a second casualty to the landing zone for evacuation. A.P. Hill firefighters and the medics wheeled him to the Eurocopter and Ison and Modrall loaded and secured him. The helicopter flew another pattern and unloaded the patient.

Satisfied that the exercise had tested the post's casualty evacuation procedures, Dargle ended it and participants moved to the EOD School for the hot wash--a review where all who participated can offer first impressions in a non-threatening environment.

Dargle said the exercise achieved his goals.

"We absolutely accomplished what we wanted to, to find the holes in our system," he said. "We must learn from today so we will be better if it happens for real."

An energetic discussion followed that examined the exercise step by step, covering communications, response times, landing zone location and suitability and other procedures.

Exercise controllers took notes and guided the discussion, reminding the participants that they only needed to offer first impressions; they could write and submit more-detailed comments to them later for the formal after action review.

After about 45 minutes Dargle wrapped the discussion, saying he was pleased with the exercise and the information the hot wash provided.

This has been beneficial to the entire garrison, he said. It will definitely help us in the future.

Page last updated Tue June 18th, 2013 at 15:42