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U.S. troops in Honduras practice medical evacuations

By Maria Pinel Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

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The 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment conducted a joint Medical Evacuation training with Joint Security Forces at Soto Cano Air Base, Jan. 17 - 18, to increase readiness and knowledge in preparation for medical emergencies.  

The exercise had three phases which involved academics, hot and cold loading training, and the execution of a MEDEVAC rehearsal, where JSF soldiers were part of tag-line teams performing hoist operations underneath a helicopter.

During the academics, JSF personnel learned about aircraft capabilities and the importance of 9-lines and Mechanism, Injury, Signs and Symptoms (MIST) reports, to ensure proper ground-to-air communication so that units involved in a MEDEVAC will receive the necessary information to reach the patient’s location, giving way to phase two of the training where JSF physically carried a simulated patient onto a helicopter and practiced patient handover procedures.

“We focused on JSF this time because they deploy with our Medical Element on the MEDRETES [Medical Readiness Training Exercises],” “It’s important that if we do receive a MEDEVAC, these individuals who are on the ground with the patient know what we’re looking for as aviators; whether it be through marking a landing zone or talking to us on the radio, so we can respond quicker to the emergency,” said 1st Lt. Sean Lucas, Charlie Company operations officer and officer in charge of the training event.

Soldiers were also given different scenarios for evaluation and assessment to determine the right course of action and were asked to draft MIST reports, which were evaluated during the second day, when they also practiced patient handovers with flight medics.

“We are using a specialized team of 12 soldiers working as a fast response team,” said Sgt. David Torres, Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of training for JSF. “This training will help them identify and mark a landing zone for an aircraft, and it also helps us provide security for the patient to receive care, and provide clear and specific information required before the aircraft arrives.”

During the execution phase, personnel participated in a medical evacuation rehearsal where the proposed scenario involved a JTF-Bravo servicemember being injured during a Medical Readiness Training Exercise in a remote location. In that situation, JSF’s first task would be to secure the area and the patient, and call in for an emergency medical evacuation utilizing a 9-line request.

This training allowed JSF soldiers to complete tag-line team iterations, marking and choosing landing zones and completing patient handovers, providing them the opportunity to experience what it’s like to operate beneath a hovering helicopter.

“We believe it’s important to train every entity that makes up JTF-Bravo to increase its response time to medical emergencies. It’s important that when we conduct hoist operations we have confidence in the individuals on the ground, knowing that when we arrive on scene they have a better understanding of our operating procedures,” said Lucas.

This is a reoccurring event. However previous training did not incorporate hoist iterations inside of the landing zone. As the training develops, the 1-228 AVN hopes to incorporate hands-on patient care as well as night operations, increasing readiness and coordination between the two Major Subordinate Commands.

“It’s preparing us to work together in an emergency situation where the ultimate goal is to save lives,” Torres said. 


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