California National Guard Train in MEDEVAC Flight
1st Squadron, 18th Cavalry, California Army National Guard performed medical evacuation flights with 3-140 AVN Black Hawks at Fort Hunter Liggett during their annual training.
US Army, June 18, 2015 - FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. by Master Sgt. Paul Wade - The rotor wash from the UH-60 Black Hawk kicks up needle-like weeds and swirling dust that surrounds the Fort Hunter Liggett landing zone, engulfing three Soldiers in a wave of scorched earth that hasn’t seen rain in months.
As the helicopter lands, Spc. Taylor Walker leans over a Soldier who is lying in the dirt on a litter, covering her from the debris. This protective nature is infused into Walker’s every now-dirt-clogged pore. He is a health care specialist, known better in the U.S. Army as a combat medic.
When not serving his state and nation as a citizen-Soldier assigned to Headquarters, 1st Squadron, 18th Cavalry, a unit of the California Army National Guard, he doubles up his closet space with another uniform by protecting and serving the city of San Diego as a police officer.
Emerging from the aircraft is Spc. Brad Machado, a flight medic with 3rd Battalion, 140th Aviation Service and Support, based out of Stockton. He bends down to speak with Walker, looks over the bandages and tourniquet that Walker had applied to his patient, and gives some final words of guidance and encouragement before updating his fellow crew chief and pilots.
Walker’s patient is Spc. Cesiro Martinez, who is assigned to the Cavalry’s support unit, D Co., 40th Brigade Support Battalion, out of the same armory in Azusa as Walker’s headquarters. Martinez, a security guard at a hospital, is lending her own support as a role player in their medical evacuation training exercise on June 11, and is playing it well by thrashing, yelling and adding that extra layer of realism.
“[Calling in a medevac] in the classroom and then doing it out here with the heat, the dirt flying around, the helicopter noise and actual flight medics and pilots to talk to, it’s almost like the real thing,” said one medic.
Machado returns to the scene and signals Walker and Spc. Juan Perez to start transporting Martinez to the waiting bird. Perez, who works in private security, is the litter team leader. The team deftly maneuvers over rolling terrain, crashing through the needle-covered weeds, and slides the patient onto the aircraft’s metal floor, lashing the litter down with straps.
Walker guides them back into the start position and the role players are switched out for another run.
Machado and his crew take off, churning up the earth again, covering everyone on the ground with a layer of dirt that won’t be removed for another nine days.
“We have around 20 medics here at annual training,” said 1st Lt. Matt Keane. “They all worked on radioing in the request during last month’s drill weekend but to do it with actual pilots just improves this important skill even more.”
“Obviously, we don’t get to have a helicopter around very often,” said Walker. “So beyond our primary goal of conducting a patient handover so they can get to a higher level of care we also get this amazing opportunity to work with flight medics and learn about the inherent dangers of managing a helicopter extraction.”
“Annual training provides the perfect setting to recertify certain tasks within our skill set, like aeromedical evacuation,” said Capt. Giancarlo Lembo, officer-in-charge of the medical section and a physician at Kaiser Permanente. “Best of all, this is motivating for the troops. They feel good about their [jobs].”
The helicopter returns and another sand storm blankets Lembo’s team. “This is an experience of a lifetime,” he said.
This article is listed in :
California National Guard US Army Aviation
Sikorsky HH-60M Black Hawk
Fort Hunter Liggett