FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. -- They provide the kind of help you hope you never need.

Mercy Air, an air ambulance company, supports both military personnel and their Families stationed here and military personnel participating in training exercises. When needed, Mercy Air "races the reaper" to airlift trauma patients from the installation to medical facilities.

"During your maneuvers, during your exercises here, if there were accidents involving vehicles, any live ammunition accidents, we are available 24/7 to respond to and airlift out to the closest trauma center for immediate treatment," said Jackie Shepheard, a Mercy Air flight nurse. "We are also available to any military and Family member assigned to Fort Hunter Liggett that might need our services."

Currently, Mercy Air crews are also acting as role players for medical evacuation exercises conducted during the 189th Infantry Brigade's Task Force Cold Steel training mission.

John Taussig, a flight paramedic with Mercy Air, said their group is happy to help train on a case-by-case basis.

"Just last week, we were asked to help train a unit," Taussig said. "The first day, we came in and gave a lecture on what it is we do. The second day, we actually flew in during one of the training exercises and evacuated one of the Soldiers out of the scenario. It was great practice for us."

If Mercy Air crews could work more with military medical personnel, the civilians and Soldiers could learn more of each others' terminology and medical procedures, Taussig added.

"We'd like to explain how our loading and patient process works, so in the event ya'll need us, you can help and facilitate getting the patient onto the aircraft and, if necessary, we can always take a military person along with the patient," Shepheard said.

"We have to train with you, so that you know how to approach our particular brand of helicopter. They all load differently. They all have different equipment available and items we might be caring with us," Shepheard continued. "The care that the first responders give to the patient can greatly help the flight nurse and flight paramedic speed their process and get the patient to the trauma center quicker."


Fort Hunter Liggett is the largest installation in the Army Reserve, with more than 160,000 acres of mountains, valleys, rivers, plains and forests. It provides ideal maneuver areas and state of the art training facilities.

The 91st Training Division, headquartered at Fort Hunter Liggett, trains and assesses Army Reserve units, and supports training for joint, combined and active Army forces. Thousands of Soldiers and dozens of units from around the country are participating in the April Combat Support Training Exercise, which provides realistic training for military maneuvers and tactics such as base security, convoy operations and battle reaction drills during simulated enemy attacks. The exercise provides realistic training to units to successfully meet the challenges of an extended and integrated battlefield.