Contingency location Airmen respond to Mass Casualty exercise

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Leonid Soubbotine
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Airmen assigned to the 23rd Wing were tested during a simulated mass casualty (MASCAL) exercise during Exercise Ready Tiger 24-1 at a simulated contingency location at Avon Park Air Force Range, Florida, April 14, 2024.

MASCAL exercise simulates an event that causes the demand of patients to exceed the medical unit’s capabilities, resulting in developing techniques and gaining experience in the efficient use of resources and utilization of non-medical Airmen.

“We train for these (mass casualties) because we want to be ready, as it is a possibility. Every CL will have different medical capabilities,” said Maj. Chris Conover, 23rd Medical Group health care integrator. “It is good for familiarization and gives the providers a small taste of the possible difficulties they’ll face during an actual MASCAL. The exercise helps with team cohesion and communication and strengthens the dynamics with other teams involved like security forces and fire department.”

Effective communication between the CL and remote expeditionary air base is paramount, particularly in environments with limited personnel and resources. Considering this challenge, the training and development of Multi-Capable Airmen is essential.

“During a MASCAL, manpower is a huge need, as there are a lot of simple tasks that need to be done: hold pressure on a wound, crowd control, sitting with or monitoring the walking wounded or assisting with patient transport,” Conover said. “All Airmen who deploy are given basic medical training and go through a Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) course and can render help in a dire situation.”

Responding to multiple simulated wounded and deceased personnel, medical Airmen must quickly and efficiently triage patients followed by demonstrating and explaining proper care procedures.
“We train for the MASCAL so we can be ready for the future fight to know what we can handle and what we can’t at a contingency location,” said Maj. Stacy Madden, 23rd Medical Group beneficiary care clinic flight commander. “We treated blast attacks with wounds ranging from blunt trauma, penetrating trauma to the chest, eye wounds, broken limbs, head injuries and missing limbs. The team responded swiftly and seven lives were saved.”

To follow the Air Force’s medical “hub and spoke” concept of medical support at deployed facilities in a MASCAL event, the small medical and surgical teams reached out to the main Expeditionary Air Base at Savannah Air National Guard Base, Georgia.

Airmen assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron were dispatched on an HC-130J Combat King II to render quick aid. In roughly 30 minutes from coming to a stop to wheels up in the air, the PJs were able to recover seven wounded and three deceased personnel, alleviating pressure on the medical team at Avon Park AFR.

The swift and coordinated response demonstrated by medical personnel and rescue teams underscored the effectiveness of Air Force training protocols and the commitment to saving lives in challenging environments -- living up to the motto “That Others May Live.”