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NEWS | Aug. 23, 2021

Enabling the effects - MRTC Soldiers support Global Medic at Fort McCoy

By Maj. Tomas Rofkahr Medical Readiness and Training Command

Providing timely life-saving measures can make all the difference in a real-life conflict, and the training to do so effectively takes a lot of help from behind the scenes.

The effects and enablers (E&E) team from the U.S. Army Reserve’s Medical Readiness and Training Command (MRTC) is one of the prime motivators of what makes exercise Global Medic great.

Global Medic is an annual full-spectrum training event, where active duty and Reserve component Soldiers, Airmen, and Sailors confront unscripted scenarios that include executing battlefield combat life-saving measures.

The effects and enablers team, which is responsible for creating realistic simulated combat casualties, is probably best known for the moulage makeup that they are trained to use. The makeup includes different compounds capable of simulating everything from a black eye to an open abdominal wound--the same stuff Hollywood effects specialists use in their own work.

However, the team does far more than just simulate wounds on live-action role players and casualty simulation mannequins. While this does make up the most visible of their duties, there’s a great deal of work that it takes to get a casualty from the E&E production room floor out to the field in Global Medic where training medical Soldiers can begin.

“It all begins with people, we can never have enough of them,” said Staff Sgt. Keith Iris Jr., from the 7305th Medical Training Support Battalion based in Sacramento, California. “From building the casualties or loading role-players and mannequins onto the ambulances for transfer out to the units, we need a lot of people to keep up with the pace of training. If we can’t keep up, the quality and quantity of the scenarios suffer.”

For Iris, a behavioral health specialist from Lake Havasu City, Arizona, training medical Soldiers is what he loves most about working for Medical Readiness and Training Command, the one-star command responsible for executing Global Medic each year as part of the Army’s Combat Support Training Program.

“I self-recruited to MRTC,” he said. “I wholeheartedly believe in their mission. We are training the young men and women that we’ll rely on to save lives on the battlefield.”

Saving lives on the battlefield is something that Iris feels passionate about. As a parent with a son serving as a Marine in South Korea and a daughter primed to join the Navy, he has a very tangible and ongoing desire to see the medics being trained at Global Medic be very best they can be.

While the simulated battlefield for Global Medic takes place in the sandy desert of Fort Hunter Liggett, California, or the rolling forests of Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, the scenarios that drive the training come from lessons learned from battlefields worldwide.

“Through the joint exercise life cycle, we work with training audience commanders to build scenarios that will test the individual and collective tasks that make up a medical unit’s mission essential tasks,” said Master Sgt. Brian Henriksen, a combat medic from the 7306th Medical Exercise Support Battalion based in San Antonio, Texas. Henriksen, who is also from San Antonio, works as the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Exercise Control cell for Global Medic 21-02. “Each of the scenarios that we develop are based on the actions and results of large-scale combat operations throughout history.”

It’s these event-driven scenarios, known as “injects”, that the E&E team are called on to support. They work as a production center, creating the realistic casualties that have arisen from American conflicts. They also provide the logistical support of transporting the simulated casualties to tactical training bases where combat hospitals are located.

“We’re part makeup artists, part ambulance drivers, part actor, part teacher, and full-time cleanup crew,” said Maj. Diana Perez, is a physical therapist from Columbia, South Carolina, serving as the officer in charge of the E&E team during the current iteration of Global Medic .

A member of the 7306th Medical Exercise Support Battalion, based in San Antonio, Texas, Perez, and her team of noncommissioned officers must balance manpower and mobility to ensure they can keep up with the combat training exercise that runs twenty-four hours a day for two weeks at a time. It’s a challenging mission, but one that the team approaches with visible enthusiasm every day. It’s one that Perez loves.

“This was the best job I’ve had in 20 years of service,” she said.

Dedicated leaders, hardworking Soldiers, and a commitment to excellence and medical proficiency is what makes Global Medic the capstone medical exercise for Army medicine.

MRTC executes Global Medic as a part of Army Reserve Medical Command’s larger mission to provide trained, equipped, and combat ready units and medical personnel which are ready to support the total force on the battlefields of today and tomorrow.