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WVARNG conducts knowledge exchange with Peru's army, police

By Capt. Holli Nelson | West Virginia National Guard | July 10, 2019

LIMA, Peru – Members of the West Virginia Army National Guard (WVARNG) conducted hands-on aeromedical evacuation (MEDEVAC) operations training for medical experts of the Peruvian Armed Forces the first week of July in Lima.

As a part of a Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE) effort through the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program, Col. Kermit Huebner, Col. Todd Fredricks, Master Sgt. Evan McDonough and Sgt. Brad Miller trained more than 120 members of the Peruvian Army, Peruvian Air Force, Peruvian Marine Corps, Peruvian Navy, and the Peruvian National Police on a variety of aeromedical topics.

During the week-long engagement, U.S. service members focused on the various aspects of aeromedical training and the science behind how the human body responds to medical procedures in flight.

In one such session, Huebner and Fredricks engaged directly with the Peruvian military and National Police for a class on aviation physiology. The training covered the history of aviation medicine, flight physiology, acceleration and G forces, and finally, flight safety/spatial disorientations.

"During the training, the Peruvian soldiers, airmen, marines, sailors and police officers were highly engaged and eager to learn," said Huebner, WVARNG director of aviation medicine with the 772nd Troop Command (Aviation). "The hands-on opportunities were especially well received and gave the students exposure to new equipment and new techniques they may not have seen or used before. They were all excited to learn, and we were excited to teach!"

In another session, McDonough, Miller, and Fredricks went over aeromedical evacuation procedures, patient evaluations, and provided hands-on exposure to tactical casualty combat care (TCCC).

"The training they received will help them be better prepared to provide advanced emergency medical treatment to their countrymen and women during times of disaster and need, as well as during international peacekeeping missions," said McDonough, an operations sergeant with the 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne). "Learning these standards and procedures will help Peruvian Armed Forces and police operate more precisely in joint operations, increasing their overall medical interoperability and effectiveness."

The West Virginia National Guard members closed out the exchange with a round table discussion, reviewing any topics and lessons learned from the previous week's training.

Fredricks, the WVARNG state surgeon, said that establishing the relationship with the Peruvian partners was an incredible experience.

"Maj. Gen. Erwin Solis and his staff were extremely accommodating and challenged us to work at our highest capacity to help the Peruvian Army to develop methods and doctrine that will help save lives," he said. "We left feeling that we had made a lot of progress, developed goodwill, and have a great plan for moving forward with future engagements."

Similarly, Sgt. 1st Class Hector Guillen, SPP-Peru non-commissioned officer in charge, said that the subject matter expert exchange was a significant step forward for the Peruvian Armed Forces and National Police, who provide an essential response to their citizens that require extensive knowledge in aeromedical evacuation procedures during a natural disaster.

"For the West Virginia-Peru partnership, this exchange provided an opportunity for our Soldiers to share their knowledge and experience in aeromedical evacuation, while also offering hands-on training for the first time to the Peruvians," he said. "We hope to continue building upon this strong foundation to further strengthen the capabilities of the Peruvians' aeromedical mission."

The training will be used both in Peru and in support of United Nations (UN) Peace Support Operations in other nations such as Haiti and the Congo.