MEDEVAC exercise validates emergency response plan
Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Public Affairs
The exercise was held to test emergency action plans in coordination with Djiboutian authorities in the area.
“I was happy with the outcome,” said Capt. Andrew Docksey, Bravo Company 407th Civil Affairs Battalion operations officer and exercise planner. “The strength we found was adaptability. The medics did a great job with the response. Everyone moved with a purpose.”
During the exercise, a U.S. Soldier was wounded by a simulated hand grenade, then treated by U.S. Army medic from Charlie Company, 407th Civil Affairs Battalion and Navy corpsman from NMCB-133, and MEDEVACed from Tadjourah to Camp Lemonnier by Airmen from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron.
Docksey said several areas in communications were identified for improvement and that the task-force wide exercise was successful.
“Overall the exercise went really well,” he said. “We tested and evaluated our emergency action plan and we validated CJTF-HOA’s ability to conduct MEDEVAC in Tadjourah.”
As the exercise began, service members bolted into action, moving the wounded Soldier to safety within a casualty collection point for immediate medical care.
U.S. Army Sgt. Scott Howard, Charlie Company, 407th CA BN medic, and HM1 Alonzo Talbert, NMCB-133 corpsman, cut U.S. Army Spc. Trent Pearson’s clothes free from around simulated injuries, assessed and treated him for heavy bleeding and other wounds.
As the medics treated Pearson, other members called the CJTF-HOA joint operations center to request MEDEVAC.
Djiboutian Gendarmerie and members of Djiboutian Armed Forces Infantry Regiment in Tadjourah blocked roads and secured a helicopter landing zone for Airmen from the 81st and 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadrons. The Airmen arrived moments later in an HH-60 Pave Hawk to fly Pearson to Camp Lemonnier.
To make the exercise possible, Docksey and his exercise planners coordinated well in advance with Djiboutian authorities to identify and authorize a helicopter landing zone and provide security for the area.
“We had good collaboration during the exercise,” said Djiboutian Armed Forces Sergeant Major Omar Guirreh, human resources officer, standing on a hillside near the HLZ with a radio. “It was a very good exercise and we look forward to working with the U.S. military again.”
Following the exercise and hotwash, Talbert said he and Howard did well and completed all the steps needed to save their patient’s life.
“It doesn’t matter who you work with, Army, Navy, Air Force … it’s about communication,” Talbert said. “Once we talk to each other and figure out – ‘Oh so when you say this, this is what you mean’ … or we open our bags and we look at each other’s equipment, we can work out both those common barriers.”
Talbert said keeping their patient cool and backward planning his movement to the helicopter was also well executed and discussed in their hotwash.
“We prep, we train, we rehearse and run through it,” Talbert said. “… when you do the exercise it’s never the same. Real life is not planned.
“You stay calm and go through the steps.”