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151st MDG train for deployment in EMEDS mass-casualty exercise

U.S. Air Force Lt. Andie Cook, Physicians Assistant, 151st Medical Group, stabilizes an injured patient during a training exercise at the Utah Air National Guard Base in Salt Lake City Utah, Oct 5, 2011. Lt. Cook is participating in the Expeditionary Medical Support exercise, a certification review field exercise which prepares medical personnel for deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sgt. Jeremy Giacoletto-Stegall)(RELEASED)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Andie Cook, Physicians Assistant, 151st Medical Group, stabilizes an injured patient during a training exercise at the Utah Air National Guard Base in Salt Lake City Utah, Oct 5, 2011. Lt. Cook is participating in the Expeditionary Medical Support exercise, a certification review field exercise which prepares medical personnel for deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sgt. Jeremy Giacoletto-Stegall)(RELEASED)

SALT LAKE CITY -- During a mock chlorine-tanker explosion, 67 personnel from the 151st Medical Group evacuated and treated 73 patients during an Expeditionary Medical Support (EMEDS) exercise at the Utah Air National Guard base November 5 and 6.

EMEDS is a certification review field exercise and mobility requirement which prepares medical personnel for deployment.

In three field tents, using deployment gear, the 151st MDG triaged, stabilized and evacuated 39 burn and trauma patients to hospitals for treatment on November 5. On November 6, they provided physical health exams and extended health care to 34 additional trauma patients.

"The competency of our medical professionals was evident during the exercise," said Capt. Christine Bringard, the 151st MDG exercise planner. "This exercise was a necessary refresher for our personnel, for processing patients appropriately in an EMEDS facility and in working together with other base and civilian agencies. This recurring training is so vital, we don't want to lose that knowledge, we want to build on it."

EMEDS sustainment certification is completed once every four years. To complete the exercise the entire medical team usually travels to either the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center in Mich. or the Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center in Wis. However, due to a new streamlining program, the 151st MDG was instead able to bring an Alpena evaluation cadre here. What otherwise would have been a week-long evaluation, now lasts only two days. Bringard estimates this new method saved the Utah National Guard $32,000.

The Alpena cadre, Tech. Sgt. Robert Wagster, praised the 151st MDG during the evaluation.

"For their first time, with a lot of new people on the team, they were able to process 20 people within a 15 to 20 minute window. They're working together, problem solving, adapting to what needs to be done, and they're doing a great job."

The exercise coincided with the first major snow storm of the season, but the weather wasn't a factor in getting the mission accomplished.

"It was cold, dark, and snowing for six hours while we were out there setting up the tents and equipment, but that didn't hinder our capabilities," said Staff Sgt. Laura Lainez, the 151st MDG administrative assistant. "You would think it was 100 degrees out there with how smoothly the staff was working together and focusing on the patients."

The 151st MDG utilized the student flight as patients, applying rubber wounds, makeup and theatrical blood according to their assigned injuries.

"They were very efficient when treating my burns and crushed chest," said Cameron Plouzek, a student-flight patient.

Bringard acknowledge other units who assisted in accomplishing the mission.

"I want to thank Staff Sgt. Christopher Gerdes for letting us borrow his student flight, and the 109th Air Control Squadron for letting us use their tents, generators and heaters for the exercise," said Bringard. "We couldn't have done this without them."