51st MDG participate in UDL

by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos
Osan Air Base

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Members from the 51st Medical Group Field Response Team participated in Operation Ulchi Dragon Lift on August 31, 2017. The intent of the operation was to train and assess U.S. and Republic of Korea forces’ ability to conduct mission command in a contingency operation.

One of the key task during the operation was assessing patient movement from point of injury to theater medical treatment facilities though ground and rotary wing transportation.

“As a field response team, our primary responsibilities here at Osan Air Base are patient movement, field triage and making sure we’re taking care of the patient,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Rebecca Herman, 51st MDG FTR contingency team chief. “We’re participating because this is something we would do in a real world contingency operation.”

The exercise provided the team an opportunity to transfer patients from a UH-60L Blackhawk helicopter to a treatment facility and then onto a C-12U Huron aircraft.

“The purpose is to get our team ready to fight tonight,” said Herman. “To make sure that we are familiar with all different types of aircraft that can come here and that this is muscle movement for us. If a real situation happens, we want to make sure that this isn’t new to us.”

An exercise of this nature does not happen very often at Osan AB, so the field response team took advantage of the opportunity to participate.

“It was my first time,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Audrey Allen, 51st MDG medical technician. “I was trying to learn the ropes, get everything and learn as much as I could. I think we did pretty well today.”

“I do believe this helped. In the beginning, I had no idea what we were supposed to be doing,” said Allen. “Now I have an understanding of how our team partakes in getting patients in, taking care of them and getting them out as quickly as possible to where they need to go.”

Although it was an exercise, the field response team approached it as a real emergency.

“Real world, this is exactly what we would be doing. We would transport all the patients from the medical facility, once we have a vehicle or an aircraft, and get them off the peninsula as soon as possible,” said Herman. “So, this is huge for us to be able to actually work with real aircraft and actually load the patients up into them to get them off the peninsula.”

Planning for an exercise of this magnitude took over two months and coordination between multiple U.S. and RoK agencies.

“I think the coordination between all the units [was the most challenging,” said Herman. “This is a huge exercise and we are one very small portion of a huge plan in process. So, for us the biggest challenge is working with those other units to make sure that everyone is getting they’re best out of the exercise as possible.”

The operation allowed the field response team to better prepare for a real world contingency in which they’re aide will be needed.

“The biggest thing is getting our team hands-on and getting them prepared for real world scenarios,” said Herman. “It’s a very unpredictable place in which we live and for our team, although we can practice as much as possible, this is as real as it gets for us to move these patients on and off of real aircraft.”

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