Wyoming Air National Guard partners with Tunisia for life saving training

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Natalie Stanley
  • 153rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Maj. Janice Weixelman and 1st Lt. Shane Ryan, Wyoming Air National Guard, Cheyenne, Wyo., 187th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flight surgeon and flight nurse, traveled to Bizerte, Tunisia, May 22-24, to participate in the Medlite 2012 exercise.

The purpose of this exercise was to help the Tunisian medical military personnel train for aeromedical evacuation of large casualty events.

"The Libyan crisis really woke up the Tunisians to logistics of how to handle mass causalities," said Ryan. "In Tunisia, the medical corps is it for life flights including water, desert and civilian rescues; they don't have a civilian system in place like America does."

The Wyoming National Guard and Tunisia have been partners in the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program since 2004. Wyoming Air National Guard personnel have participated in a number of exercises and exchanges in Tunisia since the partnership began.

The three-day exercise consisted of lectures, round table discussion of mass casualty scenarios and a full scale exercise.

A variety of topics were covered during the first two days by both U.S. Air Force and Tunisian military participants. Weixelman and Ryan presented power point presentations on equipment utilized by aeromedical evacuation teams, duties of a flight surgeon in a combat environment, and the echelon of AE levels for a combat environment.

"It was very educational and worked out well, I still had all the regulations and (Air Force instructions) in my head from flight school this past August," said Ryan.

The first two days also incorporated varies demonstrations including; the aeromedical evacuation procedures of the Tunisian HH-3 helicopter, raising and lowering of both personnel and littered patients into a hovering helicopter, and familiarization with equipment used to transport patients.

Military doctors, nurses and nursing students got hands-on training on day three with an exercise scenario involving a simulated airplane crash with 33 casualties, 13 dead and 20 injured.

Participants processed the exercise wounded and deceased through a casualty collection point and then to transport via helicopter to the Aeromedical Staging Facility.

The casualty collection point was set up to receive patients from the crash site. Doctors and nurses with four litter attendants were used to begin the assessment of severity and number of injured. Also, initial first aid and triage were accomplished; patients were placed in ambulances and transferred to the first aid station.

The exercise helped participants get a better understanding of the complexity that can occur with a disaster situation.

"The ability of personnel to interact with each other, as well as understand the role of the counterparts improves the capacity of a team to prepare for more than just their own sequestered role," said Weixelman."

"The majority of participants had never had the experience of working in or around helicopters or C-130s" said Weixelman, "this exercise gave them an invaluable opportunity to understand the complexity and extent of aeromedical evacuation."

"I definitely learned way more than I taught and it was an honor to be able to be a part of this exercise," said Ryan.