By Lt. Col. Cynthia KingSeptember 9, 2019
FORT BLISS, Texas - Immediately after the radio call came into their Troop Medical Clinic with a report of an accident, combat medics from the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team donned their gear and departed in three Field Litter Ambulances (FLAs). While they knew the call was part of a training exercise, they didn't know what they would encounter when they arrived at the mock crash scene outside of Texas, September 3.
This night-time Mass Casualty (MASCAL) exercise was planned between the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team and 5th Armored Brigade, First Army Division West, to test the skills of combat medics responding to a simulated bus crash with multiple casualties ejected from the vehicle on a remote dirt road.
"Once the medics arrived, they began the process of triage," said U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Meredith Kiser, the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team's Medical Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC). "As EMTs, we refer to it as the 'golden hour' when we stay with the patients, treat them and have them evacuated within an hour."
U.S. Army Cpt. William Faulk, a commander in the 5th Armored Brigade, First Army Division West, was acting in both the role of a casualty and an Observer-Controller Trainer (OCT) for the exercise. The other four simulated casualties were training mannikins with notional injuries.
"As an OCT, I'm going to be evaluating how they respond to my injuries, if they talked to me, and even if they check my dog tags to see if I have any medical allergies," said Faulk. "By playing a casualty, I'm right there and can observe first-hand and hear everything that they are doing."
Kiser said that the two battalions from the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team who responded to the simulated crash scene were the 4-118th Combined Arms Battalion from the South Carolina Army National Guard, and the 1-145 Combined Arms Battalion from the Ohio Army National Guard.
"The live patient needed treatment for an open head wound, where you could see his skull and he had a piece of metal sticking out of his thigh, along with a sucking chest wound," said Kiser. "He was labeled urgent-surgical, so he was the one we had to call for MEDEVAC (Medical Evacuation)."
When the UH-60 Black Hawk MEDEVAC helicopter from the 5th Armored Brigade arrived on scene, it performed what is called a dustoff, as the combat medics carefully loaded Faulk on the gurney onto the helicopter, with the rotors whirling overhead. The other mannikin patients were loaded onto the three FLAs. From the time the combat medics arrived on scene to the point all patients were triaged, treated and transported, was fifty-eight minutes, according to Kiser.
"These were two teams who had never worked together before on an exercise like this," said Kiser. "The feedback from 5th Armored Division was that this was one of the better groups they've observed and the fastest response time of other units they've observed in training."
Kiser added that the value in the MASCAL exercise also assisted the 5th Armored Division, as once they completed the response portion with the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, they went on to complete their own training tasks.
"5th Armor was able to use this exercise for training on their end, including accepting the patient, calling it into range operations, and finishing out the scenario," said Kiser. "It was a great exercise that benefited all of us."
The 30th Armored Brigade Combat team is headquartered with the North Carolina Army National Guard and comprised of units from the South Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia National Guard. The Soldiers are mobilized to support Operation Spartan Shield in the Middle East.