MARINE CORPS TRAINING AREA BELLOWS, Hawaii –
Combat medics, led by a flight medic, rushed to a UH-60 Black Hawk carrying a litter to medically evacuate a Soldier, here, Jan. 10.
However, the Soldier wrapped up on the litter was only a simulated casualty for the combat medics assigned to the 29th Brigade Engineer Battalion, “Wayfinders,” 3rd Bde. Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
“We performed MEDEVAC cold load and unload training,” said Staff Sgt. Samuel Galindo, a native of Stockton, California, and a combat medic noncommissioned officer in charge assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 29th BEB. “We had a total of nine medics today.”
The Soldiers used the available training area due to open area, allowing a helicopter to land while still idling and a backwash from the propellers thrust.
“The reason we do that is because we want to make it a little more realistic,” Galindo said. “The rotors do and can affect the status of the patient. Believe it or not, it is one of the real reasons we cover them up with blankets. Also, it makes things a little more difficult and heavy. The rotors can sometimes blow you around.
“It’s always best to have an actual running helicopter, with an actual functioning Black Hawk crew flight medic also to give us guidance,” he said. “That’s how it’s going to be done in real life.”
He added there was a level of difficulty in the training dependent on the physical fitness level of the Soldiers.
“That greatest challenge, honestly for us, is trying to hear,” he said, “with all the noise around, honestly, and trying to properly relay information to the flight medic.”
Pvt. Michael Berry, a native of Franklin, Georgia, and a combat medic assigned to HHC, 29th BEB, described his training with the Black Hawk.
“We did our combat casualty assessment drills, and after we completed some iterations of that, we actually had a Black Hawk land,” Berry said. “We did MEDEVAC training by loading our casualties onto the bird.
“This was the first time I’ve done this training before,” he said. “It was very informative. I’m definitely glad at this opportunity to learn what it’s actually like, because at (Advanced Individual Training,) all we used was a shell. We never got to actually see what it is like and use a real bird.”
For Pfc. Amber Oglesby, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and a combat medic assigned to HHC, 29th BEB, this was an equally enlightening training experience for her.
“I haven’t done this type of training before,” Oglesby said. “It was good hands-on experience. It’s really different than in AIT where you don’t have as much going on, so it’s nice to get different stimuli and get different instruction. It’s not just from the crew on the bird, but also like getting practice – getting our take with what’s wrong the casualty; telling them what’s wrong and what we did.”
It was the hands-on experience that she got the most out of the training.
“It’s different if you talk about it,” she said. “They can tell you instructions all day long, but we actually got to perform it and do it. It’s rewarding.”