Training day: a process through the mind of a medic

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kevin Tucker
  • 319th Medical Operations Squadron
Since the clinic opens late Fridays, we normally spend a few hours training before patients arrive. Often it's a quick refresher taught by the Airmen, or sometimes, a presentation from our NCOs on tasks we'll be doing in the near future. Nothing fancy, nothing to sweat about. 

However, May 15's training was different. 

Upon asking who's doing the training, all the medics in the clinic were told that Master Sgt. Timothy Brittain, 319th Medical Operations Squadron superintendant, will be the instructor. Though surprised, personally I wasn't expecting much from the situation, at least until all the medics in the conference room were ordered into three person cells. As I found myself between my teammates, Senior Airman Benjamin Pace and Staff Sgt. Christopher Franken, it occurred to me that this isn't normal Friday training. In that case, what we will the training be? Dozens of ideas were going into my head on exactly what we were to do that day. 

Once we were all broken up, we learned of our objective: Today's training is a field mass casualty exercise. The information given to us was that:
1) Outside of the pharmacy doors there was an explosion,
2) There are several casualties lying out in the parking lot, waiting to be triaged, and
3) The scene is now safe for us to go into and take care of the situation. 

When we were given the signal, all of the medics ran out of our conference room, dashed through the hallways, and soon, we were through the pharmacy door.
After I took a quick look around, I found there were several proctors in the area, watching and taking notes, and several of our patients strewn through the parking lot. I went for the farthest patient from my location, with my teammates Sergeant Franken and Airman Pace right behind me. 

The patient was suffering from second degree burns on the right side of his chest and right arm, some smoke in lungs, as well as an internal fracture in his right leg. After making sure his airway, breathing and circulation were stable, we were given permission by one of the evaluators, Lt. Col. Mary O'Loughlin to cut his clothes off to access the injuries. We applied wet sterile gauze to his burns, and splinted his leg. We obtained vitals every five to 10 minutes, made sure his heart rate and breathing were stable, and that no part of his body was going numb. 

When we finally finished, we got our patient onto a stretcher, and Colonel O'Loughlin congratulated us for our work. Then, once the other groups finished with their patients, we all cleaned our equipment, and went back into our conference room to discuss how everything went -- what we did right and what we all needed to improve on. 

I was happy with the experience. I know the experience I got that day will prepare me for the future; it won't always be a training exercise.