Wyoming Air Guard members exchange aeromedical evacuation knowledge with Tunisian partners
By Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Natalie Stanley
153rd Airlift Wing
Medical personnel of the Tunisian military prepare for training at the Medlite 2012 exercise in Bizerte, Tunisia, May 22, 2012 with members of the Wyoming Air National Guard. The Wyoming National Guard and Tunisia have been partners through the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program since 2004. Wyoming Air National Guard personnel have participated in a number of exercises and exchanges in Tunisia since the partnership began. (Courtesy photo)
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (6/14/12) - Two Wyoming Air National Guard members flew to Bizerte, Tunisia May 22-24 to participate in the Medlite 2012 exercise in an effort to help Tunisian military medical personnel train for the aeromedical evacuation of large-casualty events.
The three-day exercise consisted of lectures, round table discussion of mass casualty scenarios and a full scale exercise.
The Wyoming National Guard has been a partner state with Tunisia through the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program since 2004.
“The Libyan crisis really woke up the Tunisians to logistics of how to handle mass causalities,” said Air Force 1st Lt. Shane Ryan, a flight nurse with the 153rd Airlift Wing. “In Tunisia, the medical corps is it for life flights including water, desert and civilian rescues; they don’t have a civilian system in place like America does.”
A variety of topics were covered during the first two days by both U.S. Air Force and Tunisian military participants. Ryan and Air Force Maj. Janice Weixelman, a flight surgeon with the 153rd AW, presented power point presentations on equipment utilized by aeromedical evacuation teams, duties of a flight surgeon in a combat environment, and the echelon of aeromedical evacuation levels for a combat environment.
“It was very educational and worked out well,” Ryan said. “I still had all the regulations and [Air Force instructions] in my head from flight school this past August.”
The first two days also incorporated various demonstrations, such as the aeromedical evacuation procedures of the Tunisian HH-3 helicopter, raising and lowering of both personnel and littered patients into a hovering helicopter, and familiarization with equipment used to transport patients.
Military doctors, nurses and nursing students got hands-on training on day three with an exercise scenario involving a simulated airplane crash with 33 casualties, 13 dead and 20 injured.
Participants processed the exercise wounded and deceased through a casualty collection point and sent off to transport via helicopter to the Aeromedical Staging Facility.
The casualty collection point was set up to receive patients from the crash site where doctors and nurses with four litter attendants began their assessment of the severity and number of injured. Initial first aid and triage were also accomplished before patients were placed into ambulances and transferred to the first aid station.
The exercise helped participants get a better understanding of the complexity which can occur with a disaster situation.
“The ability of personnel to interact with each other, as well as understand the role of the counterparts improves the capacity of a team to prepare for more than just their own sequestered role,” Weixelman said.”
“The majority of participants had never had the experience of working in or around helicopters or [a] C-130 [Hercule]s” she said, “this exercise gave them an invaluable opportunity to understand the complexity and extent of aeromedical evacuation.”
“I definitely learned way more than I taught and it was an honor to be able to be a part of this exercise,” said Ryan.