Soldiers of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, and 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Inf. Div., conducted integrated ground and aerial medical training at Fort Riley, Kansas, during a division-level training exercise in June.
The division-level exercise known as "Gauntlet" tested the brigade's ability to integrate and validate multiple command warfighting assets at a brigade level, explained Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jose R. Ocasio, targeting warrant officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st ABCT.
The "Devil" brigade "started off the year with the training exercises 'Devil Foundation' and 'Devil Prowl;' now we are finishing with Gauntlet," Ocasio said. "Within each exercise, we were evaluating teams at different levels and echelons, creating and finalizing the standard operating procedures for the staff to use and to work with subordinate commanders to reach the intent and understanding of the brigade commander."
Ocasio said the focus of Devil Prowl was to give the battalions the experience of working and integrating with other companies.
"Gauntlet provides the brigade staff an opportunity to integrate and synchronize all assets from the battalion's elements down to the company elements," the targeting warrant officer said, "whose function is to maneuver tanks, maneuver Paladins and to work with the Air Force and 1st CAB for air support."
Gauntlet gave 1st ABCT the chance to hone their skills before their upcoming rotation to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California.
One key element of this training was to ensure that medical professionals integrate and update their methods of patient treatment between ground and aviation teammates.
"When it comes down to the mission itself, without medical evacuation there to assist them, these people would just be wounded and on the ground waiting," said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Kelley, a critical care flight paramedic with the 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 1st CAB. "It could take ground units two hours whereas we can move them in 30 minutes and we can get them that life-saving care they desperately need."
During Gauntlet, 101st Brigade Support Battalion, 1st ABCT, medics combined their efforts with medical professionals from Company C, 2nd GSAB, 1st Avn. Regt., 1st CAB. Giving them the unique chance to streamline their communication and coordination with one another to ensure that their resources of care were properly utilized.
According to 2nd Lt. Timu Saari, a medical treatment facility platoon leader with 101st Brigade Support Battalion, the Army's health care system can be broken down into three levels of medical care.
"Role one is unit-level medical care provided by a combat medic; role two is a medical treatment facility which is operated by the treatment platoon of medical companies or troops; and role three is where the patient is treated in an MTF staffed and equipped to provide care to all categories of patients, to include resuscitation, initial wound surgery, damage control surgery and postoperative treatment," Sarrir said. "The BSB's medics run a role-two medical treatment facility that has specific capabilities that a role-one MTF does not like x-ray, lab, dental and behavioral health and preventive medicine."
Gauntlet provided critical quality time for Soldiers to spend time training together.
"The fight is changing the concept of operation," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Sam Tardif, a Black Hawk pilot with the 2nd GSAB, 1st Avn. Regt. "For those patients that need urgent care or surgery to be saved, that's when they call us. So that's when we go out and bring them back here to the (Brigade Support Action) facility."
Gauntlet gives the flight medics and ground medics the opportunity to train as they fight.
"When they go forward, we go forward," Tardif, a native of Denmark, Maine, said. "When there's a battle or operation going on and the doctors are on high alert because they know casualties are coming in, that's where we are too. We are ready to go out there and get them and bring them back."
For Kelly, from Brandon, Mississippi, this exercise was about two communities working together as one to better each other while building unit readiness.
"The aviation community and ground community don't always work together as well as we should, so we have had some communication issues that we've since rectified so we are now fully mission capable," Kelly said. "Had we not noticed them here, and when we go with this brigade to NTC, this would have been a major issue to have. Luckily we have identified and corrected the issue here."