By Spc. L'Erin WynnJune 28, 2016
LIBREVILLE, Gabon -- U.S. Air Force and Army National Guard units presented a medical evacuation (medevac) course to a multinational class of military medical personnel and pilots during exercise Central Accord 2016 at the Gabon Air Force Base in Libreville, Gabon, June 15.
CA16 is an annual, combined, joint military exercise that brings together partner nations to practice and demonstrate proficiency in conducting peacekeeping operations. This year the exercise included training on international medevac movement during peacekeeping operations in addition to increasing medical readiness through field medical support.
In order to further develop their African partner's medical programs, U.S. military service members worked side-by-side to instruct the French-speaking Gabonese and Cameroonian medics and pilots on medical transport techniques.
"To overcome the language barrier, we try to be mostly visual," said U.S. Army National Guard Maj. Jeffrey Sills, air medical evacuation pilot with the 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, Massachusetts Army National Guard. "Initially, in the classroom environment, we tried to translate the information on the slides into French. This way, we've been able to fit in more training."
Although the training is not going as fast as it would with an all English-speaking class, everyone did a great job working through the language barrier and students were very receptive to their efforts, said Air Force Maj. Jeremy Hicks, flight nurse with the 86th Air Medical Evacuation Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
Instructors presented hands-on static training on the airfield using a C-130 H-model aircraft and a Gabonese EC-135 medical helicopter, which had both been prepared for medical evacuations.
"We are able to validate our training by first giving a verbal explanation," said Hicks. "We demonstrate the training for the students, then have them do a return demonstration so we know that what we're telling them is being interpreted appropriately."
The set of instruction included distinguishing between injuries and how to evacuate patients based on severity, how to off-load and load patients into an aircraft using a litter, hand and arm signals, how to arrange an aircraft in a mission setting, and an overview of the four levels of care.
For the applied lesson, students off-loaded and loaded a simulated casualty using four and two-man litter carries between the two stationary aircrafts. Their objective was to properly carry out the necessary safety procedures and work as a team.
"We will be simulating evacuating a patient from a role two medical facility to a role three," said Hicks.
A role two medical facility is the first place a casualty would see a physician's assistant, in this case, the medical evacuation aircraft. A role three encompasses more specialized care along with short-term holding capabilities and nurses.
Sills said that the purpose of the simulation is to lessen risks so that when it comes time for the live exercise it won't be the first time for students. Sills continued, rehearsal is safer and allows instructors to work more closely with their students.
"Over the course of the exercise, there will be an ongoing discussion about how the Gabonese can potentially include some of our procedures to enhance their program," said Sills. "All of the partner nations are learning from each other and it's a great training opportunity for everyone involved."