Medics train at MASCAL Exercise

By Sgt. Ann Venturato

LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — The airfield here was the scene of a simulated CH-47 Chinook helicopter crash that had the victims screaming in terror at the rescuers for help Aug. 10.

The scenario was part of a mass casualty exercise that was a joint effort of Army, Air Force and firefighters.

It wasn't long before the scene of the accident was set with flames in an effort to simulate a blazing CH-47 Chinook helicopter that was shot down by a rocket propelled grenade.

Firefighters responded quickly to the call and used foam to extinguish the flames.

Then the rescuers checked how safe the scene was and went into the aircraft to start the extrication of the wounded.

Emergency crews triaged the patients while waiting for additional medical personnel to arrive on scene to help treat and evacuate the patients to the hospital.

It wasn't long before medics came on the scene and assisted the fire department with treating the injured people and loading them into ambulances for further treatment.

Medics and firefighters worked together to bandage and load the victims into the ambulances.

All worked together to save the lives of the mock patients.

"The exercise was fairly realistic. It was a good exercise for everybody," said Senior Airman Walter Colton, 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, a firefighter who helped extricate victims from the simulated crash scene.

The mass casualty exercise also provided emergency and medical crews with some great training.

"Basically it is a good learning tool and great training although each situation we face is usually different," said Senior Airman Ryan Fitzhenry, 332nd ECES, another firefighter who helped extricate the wounded from the aircraft.

Firefighters weren't the only ones getting training, medical personal were honing their skills as well.

"It was good training. It helps get us prepared for a real scenario." Senior Airman Joe Benberry. "Saving lives is why we are here."

The mass casualty exercise started off as just a small exercise for the fire department, which was later incorporated into a mass casualty exercise for LSA Anaconda, said Chief Warrant Officer Randall Lottinger, 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment.

The reason for the exercise is to cut down the response time and save lives. Because the mass casualty exercise was unannounced, emergency personnel who responded to the scene thought at first that they were responding to a real life scenario.

"This was a pre-accident drill and mass casualty drill for LSA Anaconda," Lottinger said. "Like the United Flight 262 accident, we are preparing ahead of time in case such a scenario does happen here. It is unfortunate, but aircraft do get shot at here," Lottinger said.

United Flight 262 crash landed in Sioux City, Iowa in 1989. Rescue workers in that area practiced responding to a plane crash just days before the event actually happened.

It is practice exercises like this mass casualty exercise that will help prepare Army and Air Force personnel to respond to such situations with confidence and knowledge.


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Sgt. 1st Class Albert Felker, 362nd Military Police Company, applies direct pressure to the ankle of another victim at the simulated CH-47 Chinook helicopter crash site during a mass casualty exercise held here Aug. 10. (US Army photo by Sgt. Ann Venturato)

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A firefighter checks on the status of Spc. Jared Rapier who was a victim in the simulated CH-47 Chinook crash during a mass casualty exercise held here Aug 10.(US Army photo by Sgt. Ann Venturato)