Medicos prepare for worst case incidents

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RAAF Health Squadrons come together to bolster capability skills during Exercise Regimen White

Personnel from all health units and squadrons of the Air Force had their capabilities tested to the limit during a recent major health response exercise codenamed Exercise Regimen White. Reservists and permanent members took part in the exercise led by Health Services Wing, which included simulated motor vehicle accidents and a variety of other simulated emergencies to trial and exercise aeromedical evacuation systems.
Ultimately, what they are training for is scenarios they don’t ever wish to see, but are equipped for if the occasion arises – such as treating casualties of war, terrorism or natural disasters.
Group Captain Kathleen Pyne, Officer Commanding Health Services Wing, who coordinated the exercise with commanding officers from each of the health squadrons, said this year’s exercise was the biggest joint effort yet.
“We had motor vehicle crashes and a number of different scenarios… so there were different patient acuities from basic primary health or outpatient type presentations, right through to major trauma – fractured femurs, fractured pelvises, patients requiring intubation and surgery and stabilisation and needing preparation for flight,” GPCAPT Pyne said.
“We were fortunate enough that we got C-17A and C-27J aircraft and were able to train as we fly.. so we used the back of those aircraft during the aeromedical evacuation piece as well.”
GPCAPT Pyne said it was crucial that the resuscitative surgical capability was solid so patients could be safely evacuated by air.
“We have a role that is like primary care and environmental health facility. Patients can initially be brought through to this lower level of care but then may require aeromedical evacuation, or flight with medical assistance, or support in the aircraft to a higher level of care. Then we have a higher level of care in terms of an expeditionary health facility,” she said.
“It’s essentially a small hospital with all the elements you might find including an emergency department and a limited resuscitative surgical capability.
“The whole concept behind the resuscitative surgical capability is damage control surgery, and that feeds into stabilising patients so that we can safely evacuate them back to Australia.”
GPCAPT Pyne said there were some areas in which personnel excelled and other areas that need improvement but she commended the efforts of Army and Air Force personnel on their collaboration.
“Some of our challenges are road transport and that will be trialled during Talisman Sabre as well for a further evacuation piece,” she said.
“Both Army and Air Force members learning from each other has been a positive.”
Photo: Defence medical personnel conduct aeromedical evacuation drills loading a simulated casualty onto a C-27J ‘Spartan’ aircraft during Exercise Regiment White. (Defence)