It was a typical day of training at U.S. Army Garrison Camp Humphreys, South Korea.
The sun was beaming down and the wind was calm.
Soldiers, Airmen and Republic of Korea Army personnel were conducting routine maneuver and hovering of their helicopters when disaster struck.
Rotors hit rotors.
Metal grinded upon metal and in a matter of seconds, both were on the ground in a fiery mass of mangled metal and smoke.
With the thick smoke billowing in the distance, the sounds of pain and agony filled the air.
Twelve casualties were evacuated from the crash site towards the nearby tents of the 121st Combat Support Hospital (CSH) for treatment.
Amid the "chaos of war," the medical personnel immediately began the triage process placing patients in the intensive care unit or operating room depending on their wounds, according to Maj. Alicia Madore, Chief of Clinical Education Division, of Brian Allgood Community Hospital, Yongsan, South Korea. "This training scenario was designed to be as realistic as possible in order to test the processes of the medical personnel and how well they come together as a cohesive team."
This mass casualty exercise put the medical staff through various scenarios on how to respond to patients with multiple types of injuries.
Madore stated the scenario was designed from "real-life" situations experienced by both herself and her staff. "The 121st CSH can conduct their everyday mission of armistice health care, but knowing what to do in time of war and how to step out of the comfort zone and deal with the unexpected, builds trust and ultimately saves lives on the battlefield."
Though the casualties began streaming into the 121st CSH with little warning, the medical personnel were quick to evaluate the injured and get the most critical cases into surgery.
According to Col. Mark M. Reeves, Commander of the 121st CSH, "Our 'Fight Tonight' mission was validated in that everyone came together amidst both real-world challenges and exercise scenarios to enhance our ability to apply training and increase performance as an integrated team. The purpose of setting up the CSH was to build on the 121st capability of saving lives during hostilities."
Throughout the field training exercise, the 121st CSH conducted four MASCAL exercises caring for a total of 48 patients while conducting various other military requirements such as weapons qualification, Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) defense, HMMWV Egress Assistance Trainer (HEAT) roll over training and Warrior Tasks and Drills. "This was a really good integrated team effort," said Reeves, "one of which that refined our level of readiness and ability to handle tasks under pressure."
The 121st CSH is a criticial component of the military response to hostile acts against the Republic of Korea.
Madore stated that these exercises really gave the command a chance to test its personnel under a very stressful situation. "Through our training, we will be ready for anything that might happen in the future. It is important to conduct these training events and to see the enormous amount of commitment and teamwork from everyone involved."