CAMP WAINWRIGHT, Canada - Four UH-60 Black Hawk medevac helicopters of the Maryland National Guard sit silently side by side on the ramp of airfield 21 at Camp Wainwright, Alberta, Canada. Their cockpits are vacant and their blades only move by the gusting winds.
Flight crew personnel like Sgt Rebecca Himmel from C MED 1/169 Aviation Regiment from the Maryland Army National Guard pass the time by playing pickup games of soccer or horseshoes and staying in touch with family by phone, but that silence is inevitably broken by a familiar radio call...
"MEDEVAC, MEDEVAC, MEDEVAC..."
Once those words ring throughout the small encampment, a chaotic, yet synchronized movement begins. In just a few minutes time, pilots and medical crews rush to the aircraft to make ready for an immediate departure.
Today, it was just a training mission. Not long after departing, the crew returns to the airport with two patients on board, simulating serious injuries that appear very realistic. A litter crew team meets the aircraft and takes the casualties to an awaiting ambulance for ground transportation where Cpl. Sean Gauthier, a medic from the Canadian Army's 5 Field Ambulance based in Quebec City awaits to provide continued patient care.
While Sgt. Himmel and Cpl. Gauthier are far from neighbors, the thread that connects these two medics is the realistic training they receive at Maple Resolve.
"You see the blood, you see everything. It can put some stress (on you) too." Gauthier recalls of the mission. When I looked at the face of the patient all full of blood and all the injuries he had, obviously you want to treat that, and you just don't see a normal face to be treated."
Sgt Himmel continued, "It's been great having simulated patients that are more than just someone just squirting blood and saying oh, it's bleeding. We have actual moulage people out here that are creating these injuries on these people, giving them fake arms to be amputated and giving them lacerations and all these things that we can actually treat."
The realism goes beyond the gory injuries.
"I think working with different countries definitely prepares us for any deployment we may have." said Himmel of the interoperability of U.S. and Canadian forces. She continued, "We're always going to have to integrate into another culture or have another culture integrate with us. So it's great to do that in training and in preparation so it makes it a smoother process once we actually get overseas and actually apply this to real world situations and even in combat."
This was just one of many battlefield simulations that more than 650 U.S. and 4000 Canadian forces are working together to overcome during Maple Resolve 2017. The exercise is Canada's premiere brigade-level validation exercise running May 14-29, 2017 and also includes units from Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, France and Germany.