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NEWS | Sept. 23, 2019

Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen train to save lives at Camp Parks

By Staff Sgt. Ian Kummer 63rd Readiness Division

Sailors from Camp Pendleton came here to train with Army Reserve Soldiers and medevac crews from the Navy and California Air Guard last weekend.

Western Sky, a joint exercise simulating a mass casualty disaster, tested medical staff from the Expeditionary Medical Facility out of Pendleton in their abilities to effectively process a large number of patients.

Lessons learned from stability operations around the globe taught the Department of Defense a valuable lesson: military components must be able to not only fulfill their specific missions, but work together as an effective joint force.

The Army, Navy and National Guard components participating in the exercise provide a valuable skill set to operations on and off the battlefield. Many of these reserve service members are doctors, paramedics, nurses and other medical professionals in their civilian jobs. Some of them are experts in civilian professions outside the medical field, making their units well-rounded organizations.

The Camp Parks Reserve Forces Training Area is a proving ground for service members and units from any component to work together and increase readiness.

“Western Sky is just one example of how Camp Parks contributes to military readiness,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer Nolan, the garrison commander of Camp Parks. “We take pride in strengthening the Army Reserve’s contributions to medical and combat readiness of the total force."

Emergency Medical Facility Camp Pendleton is a US Navy Reserve medical unit comprised of Hospital Corpsmen, Nurse Corps officers, Medical Corps officers, Medical Service Corps officers, Dental Corps officers and supporting enlisted personnel. During Western Sky they set up a field hospital with 32 beds.

“Our mission is to provide superior surgical and medical services to enhance the lethality, combat effectiveness, and operational capabilities of the warfighter,” said Commander John Mayberry of EMF Camp Pendleton.

Reserve Soldiers from the 352nd Combat Support Hospital provided their own personnel providing security, logistical support, as well as working side-by-side with their Navy counterparts treating patients.

“Western Sky was more than just an opportunity for the 352nd CSH to support a sister service.” Said Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Wilson, the command sergeant major of the CSH. “Service members’ lives can depend on our actions. This was an opportunity to reinforce medical capabilities as well as integrate our ability to integrate in a joint operation to save lives.”

An MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter from Naval Air Station Fallon and an HH-60G Pave Hawk from the California Air Guard landed at the training area to simulate medical evacuations. Sailors loaded and unloaded mannequins from the aircraft, giving everyone involved familiarity that will be needed in the event of a real-world medevac.

“All of the members participating in this exercise worked as a team to achieve our mission: to support the warfighter.” Mayberry said.