Troops take part in casualty exercise
CAMP TAJI, Iraq -Pfc. David Hochnedel (left) leads a litter team, carrying an injured Soldier, into the Task Force XII Aviation Medicine Clinic during a massive casualty exercise. Hochnedel, a combat medic in 3rd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, was one of the Soldiers tasked with sorting casualties according to their urgency for medical care.

CAMP TAJI, Iraq (Jan. 9, 2008) - It was a day off for Spc. Lisett Chaparro, and she decide to ride her bike to the post office to mail some souvenirs home to her Family.

For Chaparro, and most of the people here, this day was just like any other ... at least until the alarm sounded.

"It was extremely loud and everybody could hear it," said Chaparro, a combat medic in Headquarters, Headquarters Troop, 4th Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment from Los Angeles. "I grabbed my bike and rode all the way (to the clinic); I had two minutes to get on all my gear."

After she put on her protective gear, and everyone went to their posts, the Task Force XII Aviation Medicine Clinic was ready to carry out its mission of receiving and treating injured personnel during the simulated massive casualty exercise.

During this exercise, attacks on the base produced several simulated casualties who needed to be treated, said Capt. Joe Dominguez, a physician's assistant in Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Task Force XII.

"We were subsequently told over the radio what types of injuries we had and we sent out medical help," said Dominguez, a native of Amarillo, Texas. "The ambulances went out and sorted the patients according to their urgency for medical care; they also performed some life sustaining procedures."

While the Soldiers in the ambulances were picking up patients, several Soldiers were assigned the task of guarding the medical facility.

"Our job is to guard the clinic and control the flow of personnel inside," said Spc. Trinidad Arzate, a medic in HHT 4/3 ACR and native of Yuma, Ariz. "Limiting the number of personnel inside reduces chaos, and helps the medics concentrate on their job."

After they were taken off the ambulance, they were taken to their respective areas, where they received the best medical treatment available, said Spc. Micah Barley, a medic in 3rd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment.

"Everyone seemed to be willing to pitch in and do the job that needed to be done," said Barley, a native of Marion, Ind. "We were ready to do whatever was needed to treat those patients and make sure they received the best care possible."

Working together, like this, during an unexpected emergency helps prepare Soldiers to handle the real thing, said Chaparro.

"It could happen in the middle of the night or on your day off," she said. "We always have to be prepared to come in, no matter what time it is, to do what we are trained to do ... and that's save lives."

Even though the events and the injuries were simulated, the knowledge and experience gained by the Soldiers were real.

"It was good training for new medics who have not seen any casualties," said Dominguez. "It was good for those of us who've been there before to get reacquainted with the types of events that could possibly happen."

Page last updated Fri January 11th, 2008 at 03:53