Utah ANG participates in multi-agency medevac training

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Amber Monio
  • 151 ARW/PA
Several Utah Air National Guardsmen with the 151st Medical Group's Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High-Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package, or CERFP, participated in a multi-agency medical evacuation training exercise on Aug. 16, near the Beaver Ponds in Utah's Farmington Canyon.

In this particular scenario, the Davis County Sheriff's Office received a call that a small commuter plane had crashed with an unknown number of occupants and unknown details on their injuries. With civilian medical air transportation resources unable to deploy due to the location of the incident, the CERFP's search and extraction team and the Utah Army National Guard's Company C, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment were called in to help Davis County Search and Rescue locate the victims. 

"It's good for us to get the interoperability between different agencies and civilian agencies so that we can see how they work, they can see how we work, and it gives us a little bit of exposure to other ways of doing things," said Air Force Master Sgt. Chet Showalter, noncommissioned officer in charge of the CERFP's search and extraction element.

According to Senior Airman Erik Bornemeier, CERFP training manager and Davis County Search and Rescue commander, the exercise also served as a proof of concept where the intent was to showcase and demonstrate to local and state government political entities the abilities of emergency medical services and the rescue resources that are available in Utah.

More specifically, he said, the goal was to show that the CERFP's search and extraction element can be "micro" deployable in the event of an emergency in the region without calling up the entire CERFP.

"What we're trying to do today is show that we do have the capability to deploy quickly and in a smaller element that will cost the state of Utah less money, be able to save more lives, and to mitigate pain and suffering for citizens in the state," said Bornemeier.

During the exercise the various agencies were challenged to effectively utilize Incident Command protocols and to work together to extract simulated critically injured patients using the hoisting system of a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter so they could be transported to a higher level of care. 

"The best thing about the UH-60 is that it is one of the most versatile aircrafts," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brady Cloward, a pilot with the 1-171st. "It's no surprise that Utah is a big outdoor recreational area so there is a ton of search and rescue that's always called each year, and the fact that we can do our job in some of these confined areas is a huge asset for the state."

According to Army Capt. Penny McCarthy, 1st battalion medevac operations officer, these types of exercises and similar real-world incidents are further validating the need for UH-60s in the state.

"We are a non-compete agency and we certainly don't want to take away from civilian agencies' capabilities; however, we do recognize that there is a niche that we fill under night vision goggles and our hoisting capability in particular, or at high-altitude where other aircraft may not be able to get into," she said. "Those are areas where we see ourselves excelling because we simply have capabilities that other organizations may not have."

A similar exercise is currently being planned for early 2016, which will test the personnel and their resources in a different scenario and under different weather conditions.

"The fact that we're finally getting our names out there and that people are realizing that we're here and that we are way excited to do the job is huge for us," said Cloward. "This is what we live for, this is our job."