Fort McCoy's Regional Training Site (RTS)-Medical staff is busy completing training year-round, but for exercises like Global Medic 2018 Combat Support Training Exercise 86-18-02, the training institution was one of the biggest behind-the-scenes contributors.
Global Medic is an inter-service training event that provides opportunities for military medical personnel to improve their proficiencies in realistic training environments while combining forces with other service branches and national armies, according to the Army Reserve.
Fort McCoy's RTS-Medical is one of three regional training sites available to units in the Army Reserve. The staff members specialize in teaching units how to set up and run all aspects of a combat support hospital (CSH). Soldiers are expected to be able to get a CSH running on their own, moving the equipment to the site and building the hospital from bare ground.
"For a major exercise like this, they're supposed to kind of know what they're doing. But that requires train-up before they get here," said Pat Welch, training lead for RTS-Medical. "So we spend a lot of time on the road, training at their home stations. So we teach them how to do the power generation, water distribution, (and) how to design and stake out their own hospital."
"The easiest way to understand RTS-Medical is that we own pretty much all of the medical equipment throughout the exercise. Actually getting that equipment inventoried and out in the field is ... a feat, and our staff does a great job," said Col. Cynthia Hopkins, site director for RTS-Medical.
During an exercise, RTS-Medical staff are on hand to help troubleshoot or provide any support that service members need.
"The Army is responsible for moving everything out on their own," Welch said. "The Navy, on the other hand, does not have those assets, so we move it out there for them and we assist them in setting up their hospital, kind of like on-the-job training for them."
The staff at RTS-Medical still have plenty to do after the hospitals are established for an exercise like Global Medic. In addition to helping service members troubleshoot any problems that come up out in the field, they run the warehouse, deliver supplies, conduct individual training, and keep the moulage center up and running.
"We're on standby during the exercise in case something happens and we need to go out and take care of it," Welch said.
Another important part of the exercise is teaching service members to use to properly order medical supplies (class VIII).
"They're supposed to be treating the patients as if they're real, so they're supposed to use IV solutions, dressings, all that," Welch said.
"Their (CSH) supply orders from a medical logistics company, who in turn orders up the chain," he said. "We're like the big warehouse in theater. We have hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of Class VIII (supplies)."
While the service members don't use real blood or medications during exercises, they do use artificial substitutes that look like the real thing. The goal is to keep all training as realistic as possible to prepare service members for what they could encounter when deployed.
"We've got X-ray mannequins that have actual broken bones in them so they can X-ray them," Welch said. "The lab has the actual reagents; they can do real lab tests."
Part of preparing service members to encounter real injuries is showing them what those injuries look like. RTS-Medical staff members have studied at the same makeup schools as Hollywood artists, Hopkins said, and they train service members how to apply moulage.
Global Medic simulates three stages of medical support, Welch said. It starts with a simulated attack in the field, which requires first aid.
"We can either send out mannequins or live players as casualties, or we can send them out to replace personnel who are 'injured' so they can get back into play again. And from there, they would go to the forward surgical teams to the area support medical companies to the CSHs, and then, if required, they would evac out to the Air Force," Welch said. "We have an Air Force contingent here (at Global Medic) that has their own hospital until they board them onto the aircraft."
Throughout it all, RTS-Medical staff members are on hand to assist in any way needed.
"Our folks are trained so they can go out there and do hands-on training in every section of these hospitals," Hopkins said. "It doesn't matter what your specialty area is; we have somebody on ground who can train our service members out in the field."
RTS-Medical is a tenant organization at Fort McCoy.