JOINT BASE LEWIS McChord, Wash. --
A large scale multinational exercise like Mobility Guardian allows forces to sharpen battlefield skills that will be used to fight around the world against many different enemies.
The most immediate of those enemies for now is an unforeseen heat wave set to strike throughout the first week of the exercise peaking from Aug. 1 to 4.
Mobility Guardian takes place on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, where the average temperatures during the summer are in the 70s. The first week of the exercise has coincided with a heat wave putting temperatures in the 80s and 90s, and an excessive heat warning from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“You see the pallet of water sitting outside. We put tons of pallets of water out for Aeromedical Evacuation members, the guys living in the tents,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Greer, 446th Civil Engineering Squadron and Mobility Guardian superintendent. “Of course they all have air conditioning in those tents too.”
The temperature is forecasted to be over 100 degrees Thursday, as the exercise begins picking up.
Mobility Guardian support personnel have been working long unpredictable hours, both indoors and outdoors. 446th Civil Engineer Squadron has helped keep air conditioning units running wherever exercise participants work or rest.
“Sometimes when they’re working hard, or long hours. Whatever their job is, it’s nice to go back to a cool tent,” said Greer.
Staying cool and seeking intermittent shaded rest breaks will be more important now than ever, especially for those running exercise missions on the flight line during the week.
“The work-rest cycle is going to be very important in the next few days,” said Lt. Col. Catherine Bonhoff, 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron director of operations. "There will also be ice water available in coolers for participants to easily stay hydrated during the exercise."
Water is the preferred method to combat heat related injuries, and the suggestion for exercise participants is to stay hydrated even outside of their normal duty hours. Long days can mean an extra push is sought from coffee or energy drinks.
“Caffeine does not hydrate the body like water does,” said Master Sgt. Regina Rector, 446th AW Occupational Safety manager.
"If there are any real world emergencies caused by the heat it is still best to call 911 immediately as we will continue to rely on the emergency services in place for this exercise, that being said many AE members are critical care practitioners and could assist if need be as well," said Bonhoff.
The wingman concept will be particularly vital this week as safety concerns are elevated with the heat.
“Keep eyes on your wingman,” says Rector. “A lot of people, they think, ‘oh I’ll do fine.’ They push through and the next thing you know they’ve fainted or have other symptoms as well.”