YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Medical personnel from the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Ft. Dietrick, Maryland came to Yokota Air Base, Japan to host the Offsite Medical Management of Chemical and Biological Casualties (MCBC) Short Course Aug. 6-8, 2018.
This course was open to medical personnel throughout the Pacific, bringing US service members from all branches from Korea, Guam, and Japan, as well as Japanese soldiers.
The training included a day and a half of intensive classroom instruction, followed by a day of tabletop simulations, and culminated in hands on training with all the equipment necessary to survive a chemical or biological attack.
“You never know when you’re going to be in that kind of situation. If you get this training, then you get a little more ammunition in your quiver to deal with those problems as they occur,” said retired US Army Col. Scott Stanek, MCBC Instructor. “If you’ve had a good couple of days where there’s focus on just this particular subject, then when an event comes and you have to react to it, it’s easier to pull out that training.”
The classroom instruction covered the effects of various biological and chemical agents, so that medical personnel could better identify the signs of exposure in themselves and their patients. The lectures also covered the process of decontamination in a chemical or biological environment, threat management, and how to use decontamination equipment.
The classroom instruction was reinforced with the tabletop exercises which covered how to best set up decontamination stations and how to deal with chemical and biological casualties. The final day of the class culminated in a hands-on experience where the medical personnel put on their Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) gear to ensure they knew how to properly wear the gear for complete protection during a crisis.
“The whole experience has been really valuable. It gives you another insight into what’s going on instead of being in MOPP 4 gear the entire time when we should be learning exactly why we’re doing this,” said Staff Sgt. Alexander Entzminger, from the 374th Medical Group. “There’s been a lot more in-depth training as to what you’re actually dealing with as far as the [chemical and biological] agents goes.”
Along with the refresher on protective gear and new information about chemical and biological agents, the various countries and military branches got to practice working together in a crisis situation. They also got a chance to see how various teams within their own organizations work, so they can better understand their role in the big picture.
“Our Japanese partners have about 18 people here, we have Navy, Army, Marines, so all services represented. We brought them here to see this process so we have more people capable of jumping in the fight,” said US Air Force Capt. Rasheed Wedlow, the 374th Medical Readiness Flight Commander. “This is a chance we had to bring in a broad variety of people, so we will arrange this whenever possible.”
“The more information and the more people understand, the less chaos and confusion in the fog of war. If we can save just one more life, then it’s worth it.” added Capt. Wedlow.