HOHENFELS, Germany –
U.S. Army Reserve combat medics assigned to 444th Medical Company, Ground Ambulance Unit from Beaver, West Virginia, integrate with 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment OPFOR (Opposing Forces), for real-world missions during multinational exercise Allied Spirit '22 in the Joint Multinational Readiness Center training area, Hohenfels, Germany, Jan. 21 through Feb. 5, 2022.
The answer to the nine-line for casualty evacuations, 444th Medical Company Ground Ambulance Unit combat medics typically work as a quick response, field litter ambulance team. For Allied Spirit '22, the Soldiers assist with patient care at the 1st Bn., 4th Inf. Regt. Battalion Aid Station and embed medics with platoon elements performing combat scenarios on the front-line of the fight.
"It's a different experience helping the 1-4 Infantry Regiment while they give multinational troops the training they need," said Pfc. Corey Brown, 444th Med. Co. Ground Ambulance combat medic who during the exercise embeds with a platoon from Blackfoot Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment.
Training with the 1st Bn., 4th Inf. Regt. is a break from the formal training received with the 444th Med. Co. Ground Ambulance Unit, Brown said. "Most of my career, I am on an ambulance," Brown said.
The embedded medics travel with their platoons in M113 armored personnel carriers.
"It has helped my confidence being on the front-line with a small group of Soldiers," Brown said. "This mission gave me the chance to be the subject matter expert as a combat medic and know my specific role fitting into a platoon."
Brown values what this experience has taught him and shares his knowledge and combat lifesaving skills with the Soldiers of Blackfoot Co.
"I was able to provide some hip-pocket training," Brown said. "Most are CLS (Combat Lifesaver) qualified to a certain degree. I was able to teach more details about proper needle decompression and some other CLS skills."
Witnessing the U.S. military train with allied forces and partners is a phenomenal experience for the medics.
"I think it is great to see allied forces training and cooperating to reach common goals and achieve a mission," said Sgt. Brandon Rupe, 2nd Platoon, 3rd Squad Leader from 444th Med Co. Ground Ambulance Unit.
Rupe provides medical support during the exercise attached to a mortar platoon from Cherokee Company, 1st Bn., 4th Inf. Regt.
"If anyone becomes a casualty in the training area, we are here to provide medical support," Rupe said.
Depending on the injury, the medics send Soldiers to the Battalion's Aid Station or a local German hospital near Hohenfels, Rupe said.
Rupe said there are no injuries to report thus far.
"It is an experience to see what it is like to be a medic with a platoon which is constantly mobile," said Spc. Nicholas Pritt, 444th Med Co. Ground Ambulance Unit combat medic.
The platoon patrolled some on foot during the scenario, protecting a town full of civilians from attack.
There is a difference between working with the field ambulance team and being a platoon's sole combat medic, added Pritt.
"The significant difference is being the first point of contact to care for the casualty," Pritt emphasized. Pritt learned all these lessons attached to a mechanized platoon from Apache Company, 1st Bn., 4th Inf. Regt.
First Bn., 4th Inf. Regt. and the 444th Med Co. Ground Ambulance Unit collaboration for training exercises benefit both the reserve and active-duty Soldiers.
"The opportunity for these units to train and work together is fantastic," said Capt. Derrick Bouldin, commander of Headquarters Company, 1st Bn., 4th Inf. Regt. "An interesting asset of being a reserve unit is the Soldiers bring their life experience to the table."
Bouldin said that the 444th Med Co. Ground Ambulance Unit medics are health care professionals who work daily in the private sector and are Soldiers.
"In this reserve unit, there are intensive care unit nurses and paramedics, etc., whose relevant skills are put into practice over and over again," Bouldin said.
Bouldin said many Soldiers come to the 1st Bn., 4th Inf. Regt. from their initial Advanced Individual Training for the Army.
"We develop their training and skills here, but with exposure to other units, they have the opportunity to cross-train," Bouldin said.
More reserve medics from the 444th Med Co. Ground Ambulance Unit will return to Hohenfels in late February 2022, performing the same medical assist mission with the 1st Bn., 4th Inf. Regt. during K-FOR rotation training. K-FOR is mobilization training for multinational forces deploying to Kosovo.
"For our reserve medics, participating in these exercises is a confidence builder when they see they perform at the level of their active-duty counterparts," said Maj. Jack Williams, commander of the 444th Med Co. Ground Ambulance Unit.
Exercise Allied Spirit '22 is a U.S. Army Europe and Africa driven exercise at the 7th Army Training Command's Joint Multinational Readiness Center utilizing the Hohenfels' Training Area. Approximately 5,200 soldiers from 15 nations including Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Moldova, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States are joining forces and training together for this exercise.