CONCORD, Calif. – Medical specialists from the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Medical Group Detachment 1 took their expertise on the road to participate in a California disaster response exercise.
Exercise Sentinel Response, held primarily on the grounds of a U.S. Navy military installation, tested the skills of the medical team reacting to a simulated radiological explosion that caused mass casualties.
The three-day exercise stress-tested coordination between California state, county and National Guard elements. Participants responded to scenarios involving hazmat containment, rescue operations and medical triage and treatment.
For the 154th Medical Group, Detachment 1, in a year where COVID-19 hampered or shut down many of the training exercises it would have typically participated in, Sentinel Response was getting back to business.
"From a training standpoint, the pandemic threw our normal training ops and routines for a loop," said Lt. Col. James Faumuina, 154th Medical Group Detachment 1 commander.
The Navy grounds, with its large areas and variety of structures, allowed exercise planners to concoct challenging yet realistic scenarios. Vehicle collision rescue, hazmat threat reaction, confined space rescue, breach and stabilization, decontamination, and medical treatment were some of the challenges first responders faced.
Integration was a priority for the Hawaii Airmen, as the exercise's military presence involved counterparts from the California Air National Guard's 144th Medical Detachment 1 and California Army National Guard Soldiers.
"In large and complex dom-ops disaster response, you are going to have a multitude of personnel coming together from a multitude of organizations and jurisdictions, and you're going to have to merge that effort very quickly," Faumuina said. "... We're talking integration up and down the chain of response. That integration is not easy and that's why exercises such as these are important."