Relevant joint training creates team efficiencies, best practices

By Lt. Col. Angela Wallace | Army Reserve Medical Command | Sept. 21, 2016

September 11, 2016 — PINELLAS PARK, FL -- The medical skills of Army Reserve Soldiers from Tampa-based 7222nd and Orlando-based 7235th Medical Support Units were tested during a joint mass casualty training exercise held on 10-11 Sept.

7235th MSU, commanded by Lt. Col. Lisa Patton, led initial planning efforts for the joint training exercise, and executed their portion of the training alongside personnel from F Company, 5-159th Aviation MEDEVAC unit and more than 40 University of Central Florida ROTC cadets at Orlando Executive Airport.  Training was simultaneously being conducted by sister medical support unit, the 7222nd, in Tampa, Florida in preparation for a casualty exchange towards the end of the MASCAL exercise.  

Training for mass casualty events is conducted to improve efficiencies in how patients are handled to address as many affected personnel as possible based on the severity of the injury and number of patients needing assistance.

 “Early coordination and commitment from supporting units is the key to success. You need to have a clear vision of what you wish to accomplish in order to be successful and you need to train to that standard while communicating your vision to others,” said Maj. Roderick Mathis, 7235th MSU lead operational planner for the joint MASCAL exercise.  

The 7222nd MSU joined Army Reserve Soldiers from F. Co., 5-159th and Air Force personnel with 927th Aeromedical Staging Training Squadron to execute their portion of the MASCAL exercise on MacDill Air Force Base.  

Commander for 7222nd MSU, Lt. Col. Elizabeth Busheme, and her team worked for months with the 7235th MSU to coordinate an opportunity that allowed her personnel to face a training scenario similar to what they might encounter for future missions.  “The most important thing about this training is that it’s relevant and realistic.  It prepares [medical personnel] for something they can face real world – not only down range, but also in supporting the local community,” said Busheme.

Capt. Amanda Regan and her personnel with the 927th ASTS, assisted with cross-training, safety and focused procedures for air evacuation.  Regan echoed the necessity of this type of training.

“This training is imperative for the safety and transport of injured troops and civilians. It further allows us to expound on our knowledge… and has allowed both sides of transport to experience a more encompassing picture of the whole process,” said Regan.

The joint exercise allowed for a total of more than 160 personnel to receive realistic training in their specific expertise with Moulaged patients, who are staged patient volunteers with realistic wounds and symptoms that ranged from burns and fractures to trauma wounds.  

When discussing best practices and lessons learned, communication was a common thread of agreement among participants.

“The most important lesson we learned was the need for accurate accountability of patients and the critical need for solid, reliable communication between all elements participating in the exercise,” said Mathis.    

For Busheme, this training isn’t just about readiness for her personnel.  It’s about integrated readiness for all the various capabilities they may serve with in the future.  

“Because we have that ‘be prepared to’ mission to support in the event of a disaster, we would be working with local authorities so it’s important for us to understand Defense Support to Civil Authorities before an incident should actually occur. The joint aspect ensures it also fits in to our wartime environment,” Busheme said.

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