Soldiers from Company C, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, completed their Evacuation Disaster training with a culminating event June 27. This training had multiple elements that allowed for different types of training to take place at different locations throughout Kansas, from giving an IV to a military working dog while in flight to landing on the roof of a Kansas City hospital. This training was far from routine and was designed to enhance the mission readiness of "Charlie" company's Medical Evacuation.
"The intent of this mission was to do a way to do a platoon-level collective training for the (Forward Support MEDEVAC Platoon; the way the MEDEVAC is set up is each individual platoon is supposed to be able to operate independently of each other and establish a network of support for the division," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Billy Sierra, instructor pilot with Co. C. "In this case, we did a simulated deployment of the platoon in support of the Mission Essential Task List, or METL, to an off-site location, which was Topeka, Kansas, and we established small operations in a simulated-event natural disaster response."
While this training started out as a platoon-level mission, it soon evolved into a company-level training event, with many working pieces involved that helped bring this training event successfully together.
"The person responsible for developing the plan is the platoon leader himself with the consult of his senior warrant officer, and his platoon sergeant," Sierra said.
This was not an easy task to develop, especially when they had about three weeks to complete the planning. Still, the platoon leader, platoon sergeant and their senior warrant officer crafted an event that would simulate a training environment in which there would be little time to fully plan a casualty evacuation, Sierra explained.
"In the real-world MEDEVAC missions are extremely dynamic, so we have to be able to respond to any type of event," Sierra said. "It can be the way we fly the aircraft to how the crew members complete their responsibilities in the back, even how the medical personnel treat the patient. There are a lot of unknowns."
Most attack mission plans are deliberate and strategic, when it comes to immediate casualty evacuation sometimes you are not given ample amount of time to plan things perfect. The more experienced Soldiers from Charlie Company had the opportunity to show the less experienced Soldiers ways to execute the mission and avoid common mistakes.
"We are training with the new Soldiers so they can learn from our mistakes and learn what their involvement will be when deployed," said Sgt. James Marin-Garcia, crew chief of Co. C. "In a way we are handing the next group of soldiers the torch of information."
With previous deployment experience and a nursing degree from Puerto Rico, Marin-Garcia was able to bring additional added value to the mission by mentoring and teaching his fellow crew chiefs.
"I was able to teach and mentor the crew chiefs on how to help out the medics and be a better asset to mission," Martin-Garcia said.
Marin-Garcia also had the chance to exercise and sharpen some skills that are important to the MEDEVAC mission.
The training "helps a lot in different ways -- now we can learn how to land on top of roofs," Marin-Garcia said. "Honestly this is my first time landing on top of the roof. It's not easy to land [on the roof] because everything is moving and there are extra obstacles like cranes. The environment is different."
Co. C also teamed up with 523rd Military Working Dog Detachment, 97th Military police Battalion, and brought Santa, one of their military working dogs, and his handler, Spc. Ryan Wolfe, 532rd Military Working Dog Detachment.
"It was training for both; the medic was training on giving an IV to a dog just in case they are in a situation where a (military working) dog might need one," said 1st Lt. Chad Wisnowski, Co. C section leader. "Also then the dog needs to get accustom to the rotor wash and sound of the aircraft, at the same time getting use to needles."
This training was their culmination of prior weeks of training.
"This event was the final event from two weeks of collective training with medics and communications," Wisnowski said. "As it started with being a platoon operation, it evolved into more of a company size training event. It was a great opportunity to use this to challenge the medics, crew chiefs and the pilots.
"We are looking to do more training like this in the future."