Emergency personnel from the U.S. Air Force 380th Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW) executed a large, first-responder exercise at Al Dhafra Air Base (ADAB), United Arab Emirates.

A variety of agencies including medics, firefighters and security-forces defenders participated in the exercise to test their readiness, knowledge of emergency procedures and interagency cooperation amongst the wing’s first responders.

“Today was all about ensuring our medics knew where they fit in with the larger response system,” said Col. James Chambers, 380th AEW Medical Group commander. “Our medics were literally working hand-in-hand with security forces and the fire department EMTs to find, triage patients and litter-carry them wherever needed.”

Additionally, the exercise helped foster partnership with the United Arab Emirates’ Air Force Joint Aviation Command (UAEAF JAC) to practice a medical evacuation scenario via helicopter. Working alongside the UAEAF JAC tested a critical relationship to ensure unified operations in a real-world scenario.

Tech. Sgt. Brett Randall, 380th Expeditionary Medical Group independent duty medical technician, applies a tourniquet during a large first responder exercise at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. All images: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury

“Our teams demonstrated creativity and flexibility in meeting both scripted challenges as well as real-world ones,” said Chambers. “Exercising what’s being planned simultaneously builds confidence and exposes challenges – both are needed and both occurred today.”

Agencies were able to game plan response procedures, evaluate their effectiveness, overcome potential roadblocks and ultimately prepare for real-world scenarios to save lives. Teams of first responders were specifically able to simulate triage processes for moulage patients, on-scene medical care, as well as medical evacuation capabilities.

“The exercise let people know how to operate in a controlled chaos environment,” said Tech. Sgt. William Coyle, 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter. “The goal is to control the chaos and move through it. You will always get the best results when you do that.”

As an Air Force Reservist, Coyle is also a firefighter in his civilian duties in the U.S., and said he was able to implement training from the outside into the exercise as well.

“When you work as a first responder you don’t have the luxury of accepting mediocrity,” Coyle said. “You have to stay proficient on all your skill sets, because what we do has a direct impact on whether people will live or die.”

The focus of any exercise is to safely respond to the emergency and mitigate impact to the wing and personnel. While there will always be lessons learned along the way, “practice like you play” is even more relevant in exercise scenarios.

“Lessons learned from today’s exercise will inform medical training in future rotations as well as shape personnel and materiel requests from U.S. Central Command,” Chambers said. “Today’s exercise will also help us optimally partner with a future trauma center in UAE to provide the Department of Defense not only improved medical care for ADAB, but potentially for the entire CENTCOM area of responsibility.”

The 380th AEW was able to holistically strengthen the base’s readiness capability and first responder interoperability with host-nation partners.

Source: US Air Force