21st CSH Conducts Sling-load Exercise

Photo by Sgt. Angela D. Green
13th COSCOM Public Affairs Office

Soldiers from the 21st Combat Support Hospital, 1st Medical Brigade, 13th Corps Support Command, and a Blackhawk crew from the 3-227th Aviation Regiment, Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, paired up Feb. 26, for a joint training exercise in an effort to gain expert skills needed in combat.

Soldiers received hands-on experience sling-loading vital supplies for air lift into forward operating camps throughout the world.

The load for this venture is blood; an essential item for medical personnel during emergency and combat situations.

The training began with a heavy lecture from the Blackhawk pilots who described the situation from their perspective and educated the Soldiers on many risk factors.

During the lecture Capt. Lee Evans, a pilot with the 3-227th, informed the ground crew of the importance of communicating with the flight crew and went over some simple mechanics of the aircraft to ease the minds of Soldiers who had safety concerns.

Soldiers had a chance to ask questions and receive information from the pilots and crew members that enhanced their skills and better prepared them for their life-saving and mission while in combat.

During the exercise, Blackhawk pilots rounded the training site and eased the birds into hovering positions near a prepared load marked "Blood".

A ground crew quickly rushed and mounted the load signaling to the pilots when ready.

Within moments the blood was secured, the ground crew was off the load, and the Blackhawk was on its way.

The entire sequence took less then three minutes, a quickness that could quite possibly save lives.

Spc. Bobby Polite, a supply clerk and a combat veteran from the 1st Medical Brigade, led a team of new privates on their first sling load mission.

Polite was satisfied with the team's success and expressed to them his confidence in their abilities.

"I know I'm going Air Assault now," Shouted an excited PV2 Aaron Thompson, a mechanic on Polite's sling load team.

The Sling Load training was part of Task Force Med, an exercise for 1st Medical Brigade that gave Soldiers and leaders the opportunity to improve their operational readiness skills.

Maj. Barbara Bachman, commander of the 932nd Blood Supply Detachment, recently assembled to augment the blood supply needs in Iraq, closely monitored the training her Soldiers were evolved in.

"The need for blood and platelets has never been so great as it is in Iraq right now," said Bachman, "this weeks joint training with the 440th Medical Support Detachment out of Fort Sam Houston will help us transform the Army to meet the needs overseas."

The 440th Blood Support Detachment joined the 1st Medical Brigade during training to help the Soldiers from Bachman's Detachment better understand collecting, storing, and the distribution of blood while on the battle field.

With the increased need for blood it is important that medical support Soldiers understand the volatile nature of blood and the scarce precious supply of blood platelets that has a shelf life of only 5 days, said Bachman.

Bachman continued, Because there is such a large demand for blood and platelets in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the supply is so stretched, medical and supply soldiers will have to be ready to collect, preserve, store, and distribute blood quickly and accurately in order to safeguard every last drop.


Soldiers from the 1st Medical Brigade
Soldiers from 1st Medical Brigade, 13th COSCOM conduct sling-load training with an air crew from 3-227th Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. The Soldiers are training for an upcoming deployment to Iraq. Photo by Sgt. Angela D. Green, 13th COSCOM Public Affairs