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NEWS | July 23, 2015

Mass casualty drill tests New York Guard Soldiers' medical skills

By Sgt. Savana L. Clendining New York National Guard

FORT DRUM, N.Y. - The dining facility, better known as the DFAC, went up in an explosion. Injured Soldiers, suffering from cuts, burns, chest wounds and broken limbs were everywhere.

The Medics of the New York Army National Guard's Company C 427th Brigade Support Battalion, known as "Charlie Med" because they provide medical support to the Guard's 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, went into action.

It was only a notional exercise, but the medics responded as if it were the real thing during a mass casualty exercise conducted on July 15.

The drill was an important part of the company's training during the 27th Brigade's three-week-long annual training period at Fort Drum.

The mass casualty evaluation is used to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the medical company so that they can sharpen their individual medical skills as well as their ability to function as a team, explained Sgt. 1st Class James Wunders, the platoon sergeant for the company's treatment platoon.

"This training instills confidence in those young Soldiers who came out of training, but haven't had the opportunity to do it under the gun - under pressure," Wunders explained.

"It put me under pressure and really pointed out some things that I need to work on, which is really good," said Pfc. Riley Jensen, who serves as a combat medic.

This evaluation was one of three conducted during the 27th IBCT's Exportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) exercise that is being used to prepare the brigade for next year's rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) in Fort Polk, Louisiana. 

"We all need to grow, we can't just get stuck in one place," said Capt. Dayana Cannan, a physician assistant with the unit. "We all need to learn new things, and that's what I'm here for."

The exercise was observed and evaluated by Soldiers from the First Army's training division.

"It's always great to have a third party put on training," Wunders, a resident of Cheektowaga, New York, said. "When you put it on yourself, it's not that you're cheating, but you know kind of what to expect, because you're the organizer of the training."

"Having a third party view to say here's what you did really well and here's what you can do to improve is ultimately what takes a good unit and makes them better," he added.