August 22, 2016 –
FORT MCCOY, Wis. — Army Reserve Soldiers, Air Force, Navy, and personnel from the British, Canadian, and Saudi military have gathered at Fort McCoy, Wis., to participate in Exercise Global Medic organized by the U.S. Army Reserve Medical Readiness and Training Command on Aug. 13-26.
Taking place annually in various military installations in the United States, Exercise Global Medic provides ample opportunities for military medical personnel to improve their proficiencies in realistic training environments while combining forces with other service branches and national armies.
“In this particular exercise, [Exercise Global Medic] is a joint exercise,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kristina Boettcher, a practical nursing specialist from the 5501st U.S. Army Hospital out of San Antonio, Texas. “We’ve worked with the Canadian, British, and Saudi Soldiers. That way, we can learn from each other’s different styles of how we operate and share all of our medical knowledge.”
In this year’s iteration of Exercise Global Medic, U.S. Army Reserve medical units have been placing a substantial amount of emphasis on realism.
“We have that old saying, ‘train as you fight,’” Boettcher said. “The more realistic we have it, the more Soldiers will react to it instead of it being fake and notional.”
To accomplish this goal, the top organizers of Exercise Global Medic have employed training equipment that display lifelike, detailed injuries and performs numerous functions that simulate living, breathing patients.
“This technology has always been around, but it has always been reserved for Hollywood movies,” Boettcher said. “The military had recently started using the more realistic stuff, so it gets Soldiers more involved and gives them more of that ‘wow’ factor.
“We actually have simulated mannequins that breathe, have robot legs, and amputations on them,” Boettcher added.
For the myriad medical detachments participating in Exercise Global Medic, many of them appreciate the meticulous detail in the props and scenarios that they’ve encountered throughout the exercise.
“This training is very, very valuable,” said Sgt. Steven Retherford, a health care specialist from the 411th Ground Ambulance out of Millington, Tenn. “Most of the Soldiers that I have under my command have just recently gotten out of AIT (Advanced Individual Training), so they don’t really have that experience.
“This is the closest thing that I can see to actual, real-life casualties,” Retherford said.
According to Retherford, the Soldiers taking part in Exercise Global Medic have been performing well under pressure to the unscripted nature of the training events.
“The Soldiers have done outstanding,” Retherford said. “They’ve used all of the sophisticated equipment that has been provided to them…to treat and maintain the welfare of the casualties as they transported them from one CSH (Combat Support Hospital) to another.
“In the past four days, we’ve transported up to 80 patients and logged in about 550 miles,” Retherford said.
Other participants of Exercise Global Medic, such as Individual Augmentees supplementing the medical units for the exercise, agreed that the realism in the training regimen was beneficial to all of them.
“I think it contributes a lot, especially for the medics,” said Spc. Austin Vorndran, a carpentry and masonry specialist from the 304th Engineer Company out of Onalaska, Wis. “People are actually reacting to what’s going on as there are definitely more of real-life scenarios, so [this is] fantastic for the medics.
“It’s very gratifying, knowing that we get the experience from this,” Vorndran said.
Exercise Global Medic will continue operations at Fort McCoy, Wis. until Aug. 26, coinciding with the end of the Combat Support Training Exercise.