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NEWS | June 18, 2008

Army, Air Force, Navy team up for Global Medic 2008

By Army Maj. Bobby Hart 3rd Medical Command

They're learning skills they hope they never have to use, but nearly 2,500 military members are braving the elements across the country to practice what might one day play a key role in saving the lives of America's wounded warriors.

"I pray to God that my sons never end up needing the things we are practicing here," said Army 1st Lt. Kristense Oberle, a nurse with the 369th Minimal Care Detachment from Sharonville, Ohio. "But if they do, I know they'll receive the best possible care because of what our medical members do here and around the world."

The troops are participating in Global Medic 2008, the Army Reserve's largest medical exercise which involves the Army, Air Force and Navy at locations throughout the United States including Charleston AFB. The exercise replicates medical operations as they are being conducted in Operation Enduring Freedom, where injured troops are surviving at a rate of greater than 90 percent -- the highest in the history of warfare.

Lieutenant Oberle knows firsthand the importance of such training. Her son James, one of two sons she has in the Army, was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2003. He survived and the impression that military medical members left on Lieutenant Oberle led her to join the Army as a nurse in 2005 and eventually to a tent at Bush Air Field in Augusta, Ga., as part of Global Medic. The exercise also took place at Fort Gordon, Ga., Fort McCoy, Wis., Camp Parks, Calif., and off the shore of Charleston aboard the U.S. Naval Ship Comfort.

Lieutenant Oberle and other troops involved in Global Medic practice getting medical treatment to the injured troops at the place of injury to stabilize them and then transport them to more advanced medical facilities as quickly as possible.

That initial treatment -- what medical members call the "Golden Hour" -- is what most agree is the primary reason injured troops are surviving at such a high rate.

In the real world, combat lifesavers provide the initial treatment before starting the process that moves casualties to a forward surgical team placed near the front lines, then to a combat support hospital, an Air Force holding area and onto a C-17 that takes them to permanent hospitals in Germany or the United States. The entire process can take place in less than 24 hours.

At Global Medic the scenarios were similar with the exception that casualties took a shorter trip through the air. At Fort Gordon, for instance, casualties were flown from the 256th Combat Support Hospital to Bush Field and then by C-17 to Charleston, where they were again medically evacuated for transportation to the USNS Comfort which was performing maneuvers off of the South Carolina coast.

"Having the Comfort involved along with the Air Force makes Global Medic a true joint exercise," said Army Brig. Gen. Richard Stone, commander of the Medical Readiness Training Command in San Antonio. "We will insert nearly 600 simulated casualties, either mannequin or live role players, to challenge the command teams to the intricacies of what it takes to deliver the best possible health care to our wounded warriors."

General Stone said the primary objective of Global Medic is to provide a more ready and well-trained force to care for the injured men and women in the Global War on Terrorism.

"I'm always encouraged about the future of America when I look at the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen and see the way they approach their jobs as they continue to volunteer to participate in these great services," General Stone said. "Their commitment and dedication have been incredible."