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Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011

Hammer Focus: Medics conduct mass casualty training

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FORT BENNING, Ga. — The scene at Fort Benning resembled an episode of M*A*S*H Nov. 2 with helicopters flying and Army medics practicing medical procedures in front of television cameras.

The men and women in uniform weren’t actors — Soldiers of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team were showcasing their skills for the local media during a mass casualty training exercise.

The scenario, part of 3rd Brigade’s month-long Hammer Focus exercise, began with simulated artillery rounds impacting the 203rd Brigade Support Battalion’s brigade support area. The attack proved to be a coordinated attack as a group of insurgents also attacked from outside the perimeter.

As security forces repelled the attack, C Company, 203rd BSB, also known as Charlie MED, went to work triaging the wounded and treating patients. Medical personnel placed some of the wounded on stretchers outside and took others inside a medical tent.

“You got trauma tables set up and we have several teams operating simultaneously. It gets a little crazy, gets a little hectic,” said Pfc. Jack Marsh.

Medics identified three Soldiers with injuries serious enough to warrant air evacuation; two were amputees and the third with a serious head wound. Charlie MED’s evacuation platoon loaded the patients in medical Humvees and security gun trucks escorted the vehicles to a nearby helicopter landing zone. A second escorted medical Humvee carrying three more patients arrived at the landing zone shortly afterward.

Minutes later a Black Hawk bearing the red cross appeared over the trees and a member of the ground security force threw a green smoke grenade signaling the pilot where to land.

As the chopper touched down the medical crew transported the wounded, one by one, to the helicopter. The security forces maintained a perimeter to thwart potential attacks as the medics carried patients on the litters.

The Black Hawk took off soon after the medical crew loaded the patients and ground evacuation crew returned to the brigade support area.

Media talked to Charlie MED’s commander, Capt. Sean Colley, about the scenario and the medical evacuation training.

“I can’t think of anything more serious than saving U.S. Soldiers’ lives,” Colley said.

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