Kansas National Guard Vigilant Guard exercise
US Army, August 09, 2014 - SALINA, Kansas by Spc Robert Havens - Emergency responders from both military and civilian organizations came together to practice medical evacuations during Vigilant Guard 2014, a multi-state large-scale, natural disaster emergency response exercise hosted by the Kansas National Guard, at Crisis City, Salina, Kansas, Aug. 4-7.
“Helicopters in both the military and civilian world are a key piece in moving patients in need of immediate care to initial care facilities,” said Terry L. David, Merge Major Emergency Response Group and commander, Kansas EMS Disaster Group. “This allows for a quicker manner than you can do with actual ground ambulances.”
“This exercise allows us to fine-tune things we need to know,” said David. “It is our first exercise we’ve done with the military, and one of the objectives is to see just how well these entities work together, and thus far has worked very well.”
That’s not to say that the military and civilian groups do not have to work at the ability to complete missions together.
Military aircraft in the state of Kansas do have the ability to talk on the state 800 megahertz radio system, but other states have had to reprogram their frequencies, or get additional radios, in order to talk to civilian entities, explained David.
But there is a lot of experience and work to ensure that exercises are successful and beneficial to both parties.
“People should be confident in the fact that there is a medical operations team that is well-established and has been on five deployments,” said David.
“Because of this, the air medical part of this has worked very well in the past in real-life disasters,” said David.
Making military units work together can be difficult, and often it takes knowledge of both to be successful.
“In the National Guard, we are both civilians and military members, so in the civilian world, I am a physician in Des Moines, Iowa,” said Lt. Col. Jim Duong, commander, Expeditionary Medical Support System. “This allows me to see what a civilian can do, as well as the military aspect of it.”
In exercises like Vigilant Guard, when the civilian hospitals are being overwhelmed with casualties, the military can step forward and help triage those patients, Duong explained.
“Local hospitals have their own helicopters and they’re limited by the number of helicopters they have in an emergency situation," he said. "So just like the emergency rooms and hospitals can only handle a certain number of patients, the helicopters can only handle so many medevacs.”
“Military aircraft can call up any number of hospitals and respond to any number of places and decide on a proper destination. This is a force multiplier that allows us to link all the region’s hospitals and make them more capable," said Duong. "Training between the Army and Air allow us a better understanding of what the military can do, so we can better hit the ground running.”
Eurocopter UH-72A Lakota 11-72192 ( US Army Aviation )
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