WINDSOR LOCKS, Connecticut - Members of the 141st Medical Company (Ground Ambulance), 142nd Area Support Medical Company, Connecticut Army National Guard and 103rd Medical Group, Connecticut Air National Guard, participated in the Surgery in an Austere Environment pilot course with civilian medical staff and first responders at Hartford Hospital and at the New England Disaster Training Center, Camp Hartell, on April 11 and 12.
Service members worked together with civilian responders to train on performing surgery in an austere environment by simulating the aftermath of an explosion at a concert that resulted in multiple casualties requiring medical attention.
On the first day of the exercise, medical professionals worked on simulated surgical procedures at Hartford Hospital, using medical training dummies.
The scenario on the second day involved a notional IED explosion at a concert resulting in mass casualties, including deaths and life-threatening conditions. Service members evaluated casualties, performed triage, and evacuated the casualties to the treatment area. Medical personnel had to perform a birth by Cesarean section on an anatomic simulator, simulate amputation of a leg, and perform other life-saving procedures.
Spc. Jackie Keefer of the 141st Medical Company was part of the team that performed medical evacuations.
“This training is useful, it’s practical and in a real life situation we would probably have to be working with civilian services, so this is really good for us,” said Keefer.
Dr. Bruce Browner, site director for the residency program at Hartford Hospital, was the course co-director for the exercise and discussed the value of training with the military at the NEDTC.
“This is a unique facility in Connecticut and I hope this course will be continued by Hartford Hospital,” said Browner. “Hopefully, this will set up a model for future courses all around the country.”
Maj. Gen. (Ret.) James Skiff, NEDTC director, said the combined military and civilian training was valuable in that it gave military and civilian emergency personnel the opportunity to train together before a situation arises where they will need to cooperate to provide services needed.
“This has been the culmination here, a situation similar to the Boston Marathon bombing,” Skiff said of the mass casualty exercise on the second day of the course. “This was a multiple scenario driven exercise to give [participants] an idea of what first responders do; what search and rescue does. There’s injuries. There’s significant injuries.”
Skiff said the exercise was “very successful in terms of what they learned and how to work with humanitarian assistance or disaster recovery. They need to understand for themselves the security issues and the teamwork issues.”