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Mobility Airmen team up to support hurricane exercise

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Joshua Eikren
  • 375 Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

The 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Logistics Readiness Squadron, and Communications Group teamed with Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, for Exercise Crisis Look-17. This particular exercise included pre-landfall patient evacuation for a hypothetical “Hurricane Greg” Nov. 6-10.

The members of Team Scott forward deployed to Little Rock AFB where they bedded-down and established an aeromedical evacuation stage in support of pre-landfall hurricane evacuation flooding conditions throughout the state of Louisiana.

“This exercise was designed to assess the ability to execute an existing Hurricane Disaster Evacuation Plan to move 650 patients from air fields in Louisiana to Texas,” said Lt. Col. Russel Frantz, 375th Aeromedical Evacuations Squadron commander.

During this exercise, the 375th AES successfully deployed, employed and re-deployed aeromedical equipment, ground support personnel, and AE crews to Little Rock AFB. A patient simulation team and 40 patient simulators were also sent to help provide realistic training to transiting evacuation missions.

“Exercises like this are important to the mission because they allow us to test our ability to evacuate long-term care patients or those with chronic ailments," said Lt. Col. Catherine Bonhoff, 375th AES Director of Operations. "Some states such as Louisiana expect us to be able to perform this mission in a heartbeat. While we maintain that capability, this exercise is a welcome opportunity to practice meeting those expectations.”

Consolidated teams from the 19th Airlift Wing and the 375th AES combined assets to evacuate simulated non-critical patients in around-the-clock operations as part of Defense Support to Civil Authorities.

“One of our challenges of this exercise was time. We’re sometimes spoiled with the amount of time we have to plan for an exercise, but this time we were pushed outside of our comfort zone and we had to plan and execute in a much tighter time restraint," said 1st Lt. Erin Anthony, 375th AES flight nurse.

Support from within the 375th AES and from the 375th Inspector General, 375th Medical Group and Air Mobility Command Surgeon General was essential to not only planning and executing the medical portion of this exercise on such a short timeline, but also to providing realistic training during missions.

The 375th AES Chief Nurse, Lt. Col. Tammy Pokorney, prepared the patient movement requests to make this scenario realistic. The clinical profile of American civilians in long-term care facilities or those with chronic, multi-system diseases is very different from that of active duty service members. This exercise was an excellent opportunity for the AE teams to think through caring for this kind of patient in flight.

“While our primary mission is to provide aeromedical evacuation support to DoD contingency missions, military aeromedical evacuation also plays a supporting role to the Department of Health and Human Services during Defense Support of Civil Authorities operations," Frantz said. "These exercise scenarios are vital to both validating and refining our tactics, techniques and procedures when dealing with civilian medical personnel and a diverse civilian population with a wide range of medical conditions.”

The 375th LRS Port Dawgs led the way on the exercise running a Cargo Deployment Function and Passenger Deployment Function, as well as providing essential training to the port, Transportation Management Office, and the aeromedical units.

“It is an exciting thing to see a team work that well together, in a typical aerial port they would have been working three separate functions over this exercise," said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Lathwood, 375th LRS chief of the small air terminal. "Being that we do not work cargo planes here that often, it is refreshing to see we still have expert aerial porters who know how to get the job done.”

Members of the 375th CS were also involved, being responsible for setting up network access for AE crews and assessing inventory needs to improve their mission capabilities.

“What I learned from Little Rock was adapting to a mission that I don’t have much experience with. Also I learned how to work with other people and go with the flow of things to get everything I need to complete my mission," said Senior Airman Christopher Porter, 375th CS radio frequency transmission technician.

Wing Inspection Team members were also on hand to evaluate the exercise and report issues that the players weren’t able to address.

“Our job as a WIT member is to stand back and watch everything transpire from a birds eye view, and interject things to consider like challenges the crew didn’t consider," said Tech. Sgt. Rosa Trevino, 375th Operations Group Wing Inspection Team examiner. "These are the things we want to bring to the forefront and exercise so the crews can be better prepared in real world situations.”

For most Airmen, participating in the planning and execution of these types of exercises educates them and broadens their knowledge on aspects of their duties they don’t experience through most home base exercises.

“As a leader, it is beneficial to have an understanding of the types of problems which may arise, and take steps to mitigate those problems before and during execution," Frantz said. "Ensuring safe, rapid and effective delivery of healthcare to people in desperate need are ultimately the most important reasons for generating and participating in these types of exercises.”