GREENVILLE, S.C. --
Members of the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron participated in a National Disaster Medical System exercise May 7, 2019 at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, South Carolina.
The exercise replicated a real life scenario in which critically injured patients were airlifted from Charleston, S.C. to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport after a national disaster. Over 200 participants took part in the large-scale exercise.
“Our mission is to provide patient stabilization and evacuation from an affected area,” said Lt. Col. William Jones, NDMS Federal Coordinating Center coordinator from Fort Jackson, S.C. “When a region’s medical assets become compromised after a disaster, we step in to provide the medical needs for those affected by supporting aerial evacuations to safe medical facilities around the state.”
The 315 AES worked diligently to prepare for a mission of this magnitude.
“We have to make sure we have all of the correct lifesaving supplies before we leave the base,” said Capt. Julia Lesage, 315 AES flight nurse.
While in the air, members of the 315 AES had the opportunity to care for simulated patients, who were all volunteers from the South Carolina Civil Air Patrol. The patients had a variety of different injuries that had to be tended to while in the air and once the aircraft landed.
“The opportunity to train with real-life people in a real-life event gives the medical crew a chance to gain valuable experience in case an event ever does take place,” said one of the patients in the drill, James Elkin, of the Charleston Civil Air Patrol. “Adding the human factor helped the medical team with stresses they may encounter while in the air during a real situation.”
Once the C-17 reached the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, patients were quickly offloaded from the aircraft by the Hospital Emergency Response Team of Spartanburg waiting on the ground and dispersed to local hospitals around the area. The exercise was also designed to test the capabilities of local hospitals during a time of increased patient admittance.
“This exercise mimics natural disasters that we’ve actually experienced, like hurricanes,” said Senior Airman Matthew Wright, 315 AES charge medical technician.”
The NDMS exercise included numerous agencies from around the state to include the U.S. Army, The Red Cross, South Carolina State Guard, hospital system personnel, Civil Air Patrol, law enforcement as well as several emergency medical service members.