Schoonover Airfield offers realistic medevac training
July 16, 2012
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. - A loud humming is heard from afar. Growing in size as it nears the dirt strip at Schoonover Airfield, the bird begins to land. When the Multi-mission C-130P Hercules touches down, dust billows out behind, leaving a long powder trail as it slowly comes to a halt.
Medical units from across the country came to this dirt airstrip in Central California to take part in in a medical evacuation training exercise during Combat Support Training Exercise - 91 at Fort Hunter Liggett.
"This particular event is the upload and download of patient litters," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jason Lonergan, a San Diego native with the 91st Training Division. "We are simulating moving patients from a cache to a rear medical facility."
"We are practicing the proper loading techniques," said Spc. Brandon Ericksen, a field medic with the 5502nd U.S. Army Hospital, "loading the litter patients into the C-130 and strapping them in to make sure they are secure."
The exercise is important practice for the medical troops. It assisted them to be better prepared for future situations when using a C-130 and experience the takeoff and rough landing, said Sgt. Carol Browne, a field medic and station administrator with the 55th Sustainment Brigade located at Fort Belvoir, Va.
"This is stuff that happens on a daily basis in theater," said Lonergan, an OH 58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter pilot. "You don't want the soldier to see that for the first time once they get boots on the ground."
The majority of the medical personnel have never been on a C-130 and this opportunity has given them the opportunity to not only fly in a C-130 but to experience a theater-like simulation, said Capt. Leslie Mudge, an operating room nurse with the 5502nd USAH, based out of Aurora, Colo.
The MC-130P is operated by the 130th Rescue Squadron Air National Guard at Moffett Field in Mountain View, Calif.
"It was a unique experience flying in the C-130," said Browne, a Smyrna, Del. native, "There was an overwhelming response from our soldiers."
"It was a lot for fun," said Ericksen, a Denver native, "It was interesting to see everyone's expressions during the flight."
"The soldiers loved flying in the C-130," said Mudge, a Colorado Springs native, "They felt like this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
"I enjoyed the C-130," said Spc. Anna Rosa Allen, an operating room technician with the 6250th USAH from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. "It was a new experience. There was some turbulence; it reminded me of a rollercoaster," said the Gig Harbor, Wash. native.
"I think this exercise gave my troops a bigger picture of working with a different service that is not just Army," said Mudge. "All the services, we work together, we are all a team."
"The exercise was well-planned," said Browne. "It was very detailed and that made the experience great. I became aware of the expectations and mindset we should have should we be in this situation."
"It was a great exercise," said Ericksen. "The only thing I would like to see in the future built on this is kind of getting more into the theater aspect. For instance, we would have those 'real' injuries to work off of and work with the teams on the ground, so when we land we can act as if we are sending out those patients to hospitals."
"The opportunity to participate in this exercise was welcome and we all enjoyed it," said Browne.
The medical units appreciated the help and hard work carried out by the 130th RQS.
"They were awesome and very nice," said Mudge. "It was great to work with them."