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NEWS | May 8, 2019

Reservists participate in patient evacuation exercise

By Senior Airman William Brugge 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Members of the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron from Joint Base Charleston, S.C., 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, South Carolina 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, South Carolina. “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, flight nurse with the 315 AES.

While in the air, members of the 315 AES had the opportunity to care for simulated patients, who were all volunteers from the Civil Air Patrol in South Carolina. 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 James Elkin of the Charleston Civil Air Patrol, one of the patients in the drill. “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 Reponse 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, charge medical technician from the 315 AES.

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.