CAMP BLANDING, Fla. -- As the sounds of a UH-60M Blackhawk rotor blades cutting the humid central Florida air could be heard behind a distant tree line, a small team of Army Reserve Soldiers prepared a casualty for a 100-meter trip to an awaiting air ambulance.
A nearby Soldier marked the landing zone with purple smoke as last-minute instructions from a medic assigned to the 724th Military Police Battalion could barely be heard as the helicopter reached the awaiting medic team made up of Soldiers who were military police, admin and supply specialists.
The 724th MP Battalion is assigned to the Fort Meade, Maryland-based 200th Military Police Command, which is the largest Department of Defense law enforcement organization. Led by Maj. Phillip Churn, the 200th MPCOM has more than 13,000 Army Reserve Soldiers who live in 44 states.
Within minutes, a Florida Army National Guard flight medic was on the ground and getting important patient information from Spc. Kiana Borges, who was in charge of the casualty evacuation team.
"It's my job to save lives," she said. "I joined the Army Reserve to make a difference. Today, we are training but tomorrow it could be the real thing. The Army Reserve has given me new skills that I can use and apply in the real world."
After Borges and Master Sgt. Sgt. Wigueroa Figueroa, who is assigned to the Florida Guard's C Company, 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment (Air Ambulance) from nearby Jacksonville, discussed and finalized the MEDEVAC plan, Borges ran to her litter team to lead six-soldier team to the awaiting helicopter.
Within minutes, the Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers had worked together to secure the patient in the aircraft and the air ambulance lifted off and quickly disappeared over the treetops.
More than a dozen military police Soldiers who had been securing the landing zone rallied together and returned to the nearby village and continued military police operations.
Borges said she was excited to learn about the intense training during the unit's two-week annual training that included medical evacuations in a realistic, urban environment.
"In the Army, it's important we learn other skills," she said about teaching the military police about advanced medical care on the battlefield. "If something happens to me, someone is going to have to take over, and it could be an MP. As the medic, it's my job to save lives and to teach others those basic live-saving skills."
Borges, a Miami-native said joining the Army Reserve was an easy decision.
"I come from a family who serves in uniform," she said. "My mother, father, god parents have served, and now it's my turn. I knew for a long time that I was going to be joining the Army, and the Army Reserve has been a great decision for me."
When asked why she picked medic as her military job, she said it was one of two choices.
"It was medic or nothing," she said. "I wanted to join the Army Reserve as a medic because I wanted to help people who help us. It's really that simple."
Borges said she has learned a lot since joining the Army Reserve in November 2012 after graduating from Immaculata-Lasalle High School in Miami.
In the fall, Borges will be a junior at Florida International University while pursuing a medical degree.
"Besides learning new medical skill sets I can use in the civil sector, the Army has helped me grow as person who can be a positive role model on and off duty," she said.
Borges said her future military career could include joining the active component, but for right now, she said she is very happy and enjoys the comradery and esprit de corps of her unit.
"As a medic, I love being with military police," she said. "They are a tight group, and they have accepted me as one of their own. We have MPs on the litter team who are higher rank, and I am in charge. They don't question my decisions and respect me as a Soldier and medic. It's a good feeling."
One of the senior enlisted Soldiers in the battalion said he developed the training mission to empower and grow leaders.
"The one thing we do very well in the Army Reserve is empowering our young specialists and sergeants to be leaders," said Sgt. Maj. Bennie Nunnally, the operations sergeant major for the 724th MP Battalion. "This is a great training, learning environment here to push our young Soldiers to the edge and see how they react. We want them to make mistakes here rather than on the battlefield."
Nunnally said young Soldiers, like Borges, are the foundation of the Army Reserve.
"We are growing leaders for our Army and our communities across this great country," he said. "These Soldiers may not realize it now, but our Army values are just as important off duty."
Nunnally said the Army values cross over to the civil work force as employers look to hire young leaders like Borges.
"It's my job to ensure they have the right tools to succeed in the Army, with their families and in their communities," he said. "We are a federal reserve forces based in hometowns across our nation. From law enforcements to medical personnel, the Army Reserve is important to the total Army force and our civil workforce."