Kentucky MEDEVAC participates in Patriot South

By Staff Sgt. Alexa Becerra, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Students from the 2-238th participate in the National Guard Patriot Exercise at the Guardian Centers in Perry, Ga., March 4-8, 2019 (Staff Sgt. Alexa Becerra, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment).

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Approximately 60 Kentucky Army National Guard Soldiers from Detachment 1, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 238th Aviation MEDEVAC participated for the first time in the National Guard Bureau Domestic Operations (DOMOPS) exercise in Savannah, Georgia, March 4-7, 2019.

The exercise, Patriot South 19, tests units’ abilities to support response operations during natural disasters utilizing simulated emergency scenarios and is accredited by the Joint National Training Capability (JNTC). Some of the key tasks performed by the MEDEVAC during the exercise were mass casualty evacuations, rescue hoist operations, patient transport, point of injury care, and enroute care.

“Repetition in executing our mission sets and the flight medics being able to perform multiple iterations of enroute and patient care ranging from routine to urgent surgical levels of treatment was very beneficial,” said Capt. Jonathon Strayer, UH-60 pilot and commander of the MEDEVAC.

The unit received valuable training by conducting a strategic airlift of two UH-60L Blackhawks from Louisville, Ky., to Savannah, Ga.

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“Having to load out all of our equipment, to include our aircraft and fuel truck, and deploy forward to provide MEDEVAC support was a great exercise and helped us determine our strengths and what we can improve on when we are called to mobilize,” said Strayer. “Once in place we not only learned how to integrate and work with other agencies, but experienced working joint operations with another branch of the military.”

The MEDEVAC has an interagency dynamic amongst its ranks, with civilian experience of their Soldiers ranging from critical care paramedics, police officers, to airline pilots.

“At the fire department, we are involved in critical care transfers that can last 3-4 hours at times as well as 911 response,” said Sgt. Ryan Stull, critical care flight paramedic for the Guard and a civilian firefighter and critical care paramedic with the Hopkinsville Fire Department. “Personally, I think the fact that most of our flight medics are actively working on the civilian side greatly contributes to the level of care we are able to provide.”

Despite the considerable amount of civilian first response experience in the unit, the Soldiers expressed the advantage of participating in this exercise.

“The Patriot South exercise showed the importance of interagency communication when working toward common strategic goals,” said Stull.

Students from the 2-238th participate in the National Guard Patriot Exercise at the Guardian Centers in Perry, Ga., March 4-8, 2019 (Photo by Staff Sgt. Alexa Becerra, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment).

The shift to working in a joint-interagency environment was beneficial for the support personnel as well.

“Working in operations at our home station flight facility, I have a rhythm that I go by day in and day out and I am knowledgeable on the mission at hand,” said Spc. Adam Wilson, flight operations specialist. “Falling in during the Patriot South Exercise, I was able to leverage my knowledge of our mission back home with their needs in order to support the overall mission.”

According to Wilson, whose job includes tracking flight hours and missions, the MEDEVAC conducted 39 hoist missions, transported 60 patients and flew 40.5 hours during the Patriot South exercise.

“Our unit has done aeromedical evacuations and search and rescue in the past from ice storms in our own state, to hurricane relief in the Virgin Islands,” said Staff Sgt. Shaun Morris, UH-60 crew chief and standardization instructor.

Although the unit has responded to real-world disaster relief missions, the opportunity to train with new entities and in new environments is always welcome.

“Any opportunity to practice honing our skills in an interagency environment that mimics real-life scenarios only makes us better at helping people in need, which is the sole mission of the MEDEVAC,” said Morris.

 

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