PERRY, Fla. - Loud booms sound all over the training field and smoke drifts in the air as Airmen from the 138th Fighter Wing rush to tend to simulated casualties.
The scenario was the final test for Oklahoma Air National Guard members of the 138th Medical Group in achieving their Tactical Casualty Combat Care (TCCC) Tier 2 certification, the new standard that replaced Self Aid and Buddy Care.
The four-day course began in the classroom in July. Students used the massive hemorrhage, airway, respiration, circulation, and head injury (MARCH) process, reviewing techniques such as applying a tourniquet, splints and needle decompression. Airmen then split into teams and encountered simulated injuries that required in-depth medical knowledge. They practiced evacuating under fire, stabilizing patients, and tracking the care provided. Once they gained confidence in these tasks, it was time for a written test and simulated mass casualty event.
They encountered smoke, fake rounds, yelling and chaos as they discovered comrades on the floor with simulated injuries.
They evaluated and triaged the injured, removed them from danger and prepared them for evacuation.
“They had grenade launchers, smoke bombs, there was yelling, and more patients than Airmen,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jason Luper, 138th Medical Group superintendent. “You’re automatically in a situation where the teams have to work together to get patients evacuated under fire.”
Staff Sgt. Shamus Klemme, 138th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, participated alongside the 138th MDG. He planned to return to the Tulsa Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma and help others become Tier 2 certified.
“We train like we fight,” said Klemme, a TCCC instructor as a drill status Guardsman and a full-time paramedic. “During the final test, they had non-lethal explosive ordinances going off with a lot of loud booms and smoke.”
“It was a great training opportunity,” Luper said. “... Everyone did a good job as far as communication, moving patients, and proper carrying techniques.”
“I feel pretty prepared after this training,” said Airman Zoe Spille, 138th MDG health services technician. “If I encounter someone who can’t breathe or if a car crashes, I feel more competent in helping them than I was before because of this training.”
With training completed and their certification secured, Airmen of the 138th MDG can use these lifesaving techniques in a deployed military environment or back on the homefront.