FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELTA, Iraq (Army News Service, Nov. 26, 2008) - Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Delta worked together to save lives and restore calm during a mass casualty exercise here Nov. 21.

The exercise gave agencies on the FOB an opportunity to determine weaknesses and make improvements before anyone is injured in an actual emergency.

"An efficient response and utilization of limited resources in this situation allows for increased casualty survival and decreased morbidity," said Col. Italo Bastianelli, a surgeon with the 41st Fires Brigade.

The scenario kicked-off with the FOB receiving simulated indirect fire shortly after 7 a.m. Soldiers from around the FOB were assigned injuries and made-up with fake blood to act out their injuries.

The fire department responded first, followed closely by 41st Fires Bde's medical personnel and litter carriers organized by supporting units.

Capt. (Dr.) N.K. Okpokwasili hurried from patient to patient, quickly determining the injuries and instructing medics on the best course of action.

Medics and combat lifesavers filled arriving ambulances, which were then driven to the FOB hospital. Medics waited outside to re-evaluate the patients.

Inside the hospital, medics directed their comrades and patients to the appropriate wings as a personnel noncommissioned officer gathered patient information.

Some patients were rushed to the emergency room, some were deemed to have less serious injuries and others, the expectants, were monitored and kept comfortable. Chaplain (Capt.) Ashley Payne, 589th Brigade Support Battalion, stayed with the expectants until they passed away. Mortuary affairs picked up the Soldiers who died has a result of the attack.

Though the medics acknowledge mass casualty exercises will inevitably be chaotic, they said they were glad for the opportunity to improve their reactions.

"There was too much running back and forth," said Okpokwasili, who said he was surprised when combat lifesavers and litter carriers showed up from 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and units within 41st Fires Bde. During the medical staff's after-action review, he said he plans to centralize his resources in the future.

"Things went really well here," said Sgt. Matthew Schenk, who was in charge of directing movement of patients when they entered the hospital. "The communication here was better than expected, and triage went well. Everyone was a team player."

"In the end, the exercise proved to be a valuable tool in validating our FOB wide MASCAL response plan," said Bastianelli.

(Sgt. Allison Churchill serves with the 41st Fires Brigade)