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  • Writer's pictureMartin Zeilig

17 Field Ambulance Joint Exercise

A joint exercise to simulate a mass casualty scenario with various CAF reserve units from Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon and Thunder Bay and visiting members of the United States military was held at 17 Wing on October 21.

A total of 17 personnel from the 934th Airlift Wing out of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota along with about 45-50 members from 16, 17, and 18 Field Ambulance took part in the exercise.

The U.S. personnel flew up here in a massive USASF C-17 Globemaster.

Sergeant Travis Munro, 17 Field Ambulance out of Minto Garrison, noted that the three Field Ambulance units operate under a common chain of command.

“We really appreciate when we get to do collective training in this capacity and have everybody working together,” he said.

Sgt Munro spoke to a reporter on the dewy lawn behind 23 Health Services. A field tent was set up with medics processing patients on stretchers. The patients had realistic mock injuries applied to various parts of their bodies earlier that morning,

“The intent here is we have a point of injury with a mass casualty situation,” Sgt Munro explained.

“Then these members will be triaged and taken to either a role one or two facility, which we have set up on the grounds here. Then, some of these patients will be assessed to be taken to the aircraft to simulate evacuation from an area with a threat. There will be patients flying out They’ll be doing a two hour flight around Manitoba.”

Major Joe Tyson, a reserve medical officer with 16, 17, 18 Field Ambulance out of Minto, observed that the exercise is training for humanitarian relief after a natural disaster, such as a forest fire, as well as in a wartime combat zone.

“Some (of the casualties) are critical, some have minor wounds with treatment and could be into treatment and sent back to their units,” he said.

“The intent is to move with the combat units as they’re moving forward. In this case, it’s combat injuries. This could actually be established inside a gym.”

Sean Smith, a flight nurse and a Major in the USAF Reserves, was with the Aeromedical Evacuation Liaison Team (AEL).

“What the AEL Team does is come in with an army unit or a navy unit or a Canadian unit,” Maj Smith, who works as a clinical nurse leader at a Veterans’ Affairs Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, said.

“We would teach what we did with the litter loads and how to evacuate our patients. We also teach how we would put our patients into our computer system to have them validated so a medical mission could come and pick up our patients.”

“What we do here is very similar to what we do in the U.S. All partnering is pretty much the same, but with some different nuances.

“We’re two different units from two different nations working together.

“With the way the world is now on either side of the globe, maybe one day we will all be working together. This reinforces the training we do.”

It’s a unity of purpose.

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