Contingency Operating Base Delta personnel, comprised of Soldier and civilian medical responders, conducted their first wide-scale medical emergency exercise June 25, 2010.
Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment and 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regt., aided nearly 20 mock casualties during an exercise which was designed to train Soldiers and analyze the current mass casualty response protocols.
Both regiments are part of 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division based in Fort Benning, Ga.
"The scenario was, we had an indirect fire attack that hit the gymnasium," said Maj. Jody Dugai, 28th Combat Support Hospital officer in charge of the emergency medical treatment area. "The force protection had to respond to the impact area, and from there they called the fire department to help clear the area and get all their patients to the medical facility." said Dugai.
First responders from both regiments reacted to the incoming fire alarm and eventually found their way to the gym where injured role-players such as Spc. Aaron Core, a driver with the 252nd Military Police Company, lay waiting.
The Soldier's providing first aid were given a welcome boost in manpower when the COB Delta fire department arrived minutes later.
After receiving initial medical treatment, the simulated wounded were moved to a casualty collection point where they waited to be loaded on to vehicles and transported to the hospital, a process easier said than done.
"In my opinion, I'm missing a leg and I've been here about 10 minutes, but it's okay," said Core, a Chattanooga, Tenn. Native. "That's why we have these drills."
Maj. James Adamec, 28th Combat Support Hospital intensive care unit nurse, who worked as an evaluator for the event, agreed that moving the wounded from the base gym to the medical facility was a running behind schedule.
"We definitely identified some weaknesses," said Adamec, a Cresco, Iowa native. "That's what these exercises are for - to identify any potential weaknesses in the response structure and also come up with a feasible solution to those weaknesses."
Planning ahead for the unthinkable is impossible, but planning ahead, to be able to think during this sort of crisis, was really the goal of the training, said Dugai.
"Usually mass casualties are very crazy because even though you plan the best, and you run through the scenarios, it's never going to go the way you planned," she said. "So we react with what we get."
Despite the momentary chaos of the larger event, once the ambulances and SUVs arrived bearing wounded all personnel involved performed well and made the training event successful, said Dugai, a native of Jefferson, Texas.
"I think we did pretty well," she said. "We got all the patients in, got them all accounted for. I had all the casualties' names, so I knew what we should be getting. We got all the patients to the appropriate areas with the appropriate providers. And, I think it went well."
Leading up to the exercise, the medical personnel performed individual training to ensure all knew their roles in a crisis and even conducted a smaller mass casualty event of their own, said Dugai.
The medical center on COB Delta is small enough that two or three casualties constitute a mass-casualty event. Around 11 p.m. the night of the exercise, a vehicle rolled over and the medical facility dealt with a real mass casualty event when three Soldiers were brought in.
The staff worked through the night until 6 a.m. the following morning, according to Sgt. Kimberly Rakestraw, 28th Combat Support Hospital noncommissioned officer in charge of the emergency medical treatment area.
The accident, which followed so closely after the exercise, made Rakestraw's views about the necessity of these drills that much more real.
"They are absolute critical," said Rakestraw, a native of Augusta, Ga.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16