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NEWS | Oct. 31, 2023

Partnership Enables Key Training for New Hampshire Guard

By Tech. Sgt. Victoria Nelson, 157th Air Refueling Wing

MANCHESTER, N.H. - Amid the chaotic buzz of the Catholic Medical Center Emergency Department, an Airman from the 157th Medical Group kept pace with the nurses and paramedics bustling from room to room.

Master Sgt. John McDowell, an aerospace medicine technician, was completing annual training requirements alongside CMC’s medical personnel in the ED and Intensive Care Unit Oct. 9-13.

The opportunity was part of a new partnership that allows New Hampshire Air National Guard medics to hone their skills with patients in the hospital setting.

“It’s a training affiliation agreement,” said Maj. Michelle Mastrobattista, the medical administrative officer with the 157th MDG. “A method for training with industry partners to complete our critical requirements.”

The New Hampshire Air National Guard is one of only five units in the country to create this type of partnership.

The agreement allows Guardsmen to follow patients from the beginning to the end of their emergency care. The Airmen are licensed by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians and can perform selected core tasks under the supervision of CMC’s medical staff.

“They are assigned four rooms with a nurse, but if a trauma comes in or a cardiac arrest, they have one of our walkie-talkies, the staff will pull him in to get the exposure,” said Kevin Drew, CMC’s director of emergency services.

The partnership enables Airmen to practice caring for patients from different demographics while accomplishing 40 hours of necessary training.

In only one week at the hospital, McDowell saw patients ranging from newborn to 104 years old. He completed over 100 core tasks alongside nurses and paramedics, including blood draws, intravenous lines for medicine or fluids, electrocardiograms, and patient assessments.

“This is the first time New Hampshire has ever had this opportunity, and we could not be more grateful for CMC to be our first partners,” Mastrobattista said. “This experience is far outside of what we can provide in a training environment on base. These are real people and real exposure to what our Airmen may see if they are deployed.”

Mastrobattista said the partnership means they do not have to travel far for the in-depth training.

“This is the shortest commute I have ever had,” laughed McDowell, who lives in Manchester. “Even though I am less than 10 minutes from home, being immersed in the culture here is my biggest takeaway for adapting in settings like this overseas.”

McDowell said this experience will help Airmen incorporate faster into the pace of hospital teams when deployed.

Shadowing is also specific to each Airman’s training needs. Every member is required to have 40 hours of shadowing and hands-on training annually.

“The flexibility in this partnership is just one of the huge benefits compared to group training,” said Master Sgt. Meghan O’Regan, an aerospace medic with the 157th Medical Group and training coordinator for the partnership. “Everyone from our newest medics to our most experienced will have a completely unique week tailored to honing their perishable skills.”

The hospital has worked with the New Hampshire National Guard in the past during pandemic relief missions and while setting up acute care centers across the state. Both teams said the partnership was well worth the effort to make it a reality.

“This collaboration and connection are beneficial for the hospital,” Drew said. “For me, this partnership is also personal.

“I was a 19-year-old medic in the Army and had no skills,” he recalled. “Someone took the time to help me out, and I was able to get to where I am today. Now, both of my boys are in the military. I want to make sure we are passing on everything we can and doing as much as we can to support one another.”



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