Prepping for disaster

By Pfc. Abel Trevino
28th Public Affairs Detachment

LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — On Aug. 10, an emergency scenario was played out to help prepare LSA Anaconda in the event a mass casualty incident should occur on the airfield.

The event's success relied on creating as real of a situation as possible. Part of maintaining the reality of the scenario involved secrecy.

"There are two things happening right now," said Chief Warrant Officer Randall Ottinger, aviation safety officer for 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation. "[The crew] is calling the tower and contacting our unit. [My unit doesn't] know this is coming."

Airfield personnel were not the only people kept in the dark about the scenario.

"No one knows about the medical event that is going to happen except a few of us," said Capt. Penny Chencharick, a consequence manager from the 81st Brigade Combat Team.

The exercise tested the joint response of Army and Air Force emergency medical teams and fire departments.

"This is a coordinated [effort] between the Air Field and Army to come up with a good running plan in the event of a mass casualty incident," Col. Joe Ortega, 332nd expeditionary Medical Support said.

The situation was designed to reflect what could happen.

"We're making up a scenario, but it's very real," Ottinger said. "This could be reality because we fly full loads virtually every night, but that's the scenario."

To create a more realistic atmosphere, burn pans with fuel were ignited to simulate flames for firefighters to put out before they could approach the helicopter, a CH-47 Chinook on loan from the 193rd Aviation Regiment.

The equipment being used created a realistic scenario, but first responders also needed to test their reaction to treating injuries that they could run across in that scenario, such as shock and shrapnel wounds.

Injuries were created at the Air Force Clinic, near the airfield, hours before the event started for the 24 people who took part in the exercise playing the role of the injured victims.

The victims were caked in various household materials to simulate actual injuries, said Lt. Col. Irene Benson, one of the makeup artists at the Air Force Clinic, where the moulage took place.

The clinic smelled of the combination of sterile hospital and talcum mixed with the sugary sweetness of cherries as victims ran around with their faces covered in Vaseline, baby powder and red powdered beverage mix.

The actors were covered with the homemade concoctions to ensure the first responders could easily recognize their injuries as they came on the scene. Various objects protruded from people and blood ran down their faces, arms, legs and every possible location. The crowd, with broken arms, glass protruding from limbs, shock and a case or two of death, was laughing from excitement.

The intense preparations for the exercise included secrecy and impromptu makeup by a team of experienced medical personnel.

The injured role players were bused to the airfield and the success or failure of the exercise was in the hands of the first responders.

Editor's Note: Pfc. Trevino is assigned to the 28th Public Affairs Detachment from Fort Lewis, Wash. He is currently deployed to Iraq in support of the 13th Corps Support Command at LSA Anaconda.

 

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(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - While preparing for a mass casualty training exercise, makeup artists gather around a stand loaded with equipment to make the moulage as realistic as possible. It took 90 minutes to dress the 24 role players with injuries for the excercise. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Abel Trevino)

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(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - One of the many simulated injuries created for an Aug. 10 mass casualty exercise, this shard of glass is held onto a role-player with vaseline. Cherry powdered beverage mix and iodine were used to simulate blood. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Abel Trevino)