CAMP ROBERTS, Calif. --
Members of the 144th Medical Detachment 1 recently completed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region IX California Homeland Response Force (HRF) external evaluation March 30, 2023, at Camp Roberts, California.
The HRF EXEVAL is a mobilization evaluation which was designed to test the capabilities and response of the California HRF, composed of both Army and Air National Guard members, after a simulated catastrophic event that resulted in multiple Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) sites and displaced victims.
As the medical component, the Med Det 1 Airmen are required to be evaluated every three years to maintain their validation and proficiency. Airmen are tested on advanced trauma principles, advanced cardiac support, pre-hospital management, medical technician training, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, triaging, and search and extraction response after a disaster response simulation scenario.
“The EXEVAL ensures that, as a team, we are up to date on our clinical competencies,” said Maj. Haley Hendrix, 144th Med Det 1 nurse practitioner said. “It also highlights our strengths and weaknesses as a team to both affirm and modify our training programs moving forward. It also highlights discrepancies between the exercise environment and the ‘real world’ environment serving both to modify logistics and processes.”
The exercise environment required the participation of various Army and Air National Guard participants.
Members of the 649th Engineer Company, paired with medics from the 144th Med-Det 1, would simulate rescuing civilians by using various techniques such as vertical lift and lower rope techniques, and using shoring methods to brace and stabilize buildings that would be at risk of collapsing. In the surrounding area, members from the 146th Fatality Search and Recovery Team would recover dummies according to their standards.
Closer to the decontamination and medical treatment facilities, patient participants would gather in the ‘hot zone,’ where California HRF decontamination members, composed of the 149th CBRNE Company and 49th Military Police Brigade, would determine where patients would go based on their walking statuses. After non-ambulatory and ambulatory players went through the decontamination process, they would be treated by Med-Det 1 medics according to their designated injuries.
In addition to being prepared to provide emergency medical care to various injuries, 144th Med-Det 1 medics must also complete additional training to participate in the EXEVAL.
“As a provider, I attended a four-day trauma training, an advanced trauma life support certification course, a hazardous materials awareness course, an advanced cardiac life support course, pediatric advanced life support course, and a basic life support course,” Hendrix said.
The additional training is not only necessary to prepare for the EXEVAL, but also for any real-world events.
“We have this training and it's so ingrained in us,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Duanna Challenger-Kuethe, 144th Med-Det 1 medic. “It’s essential for us to play seriously, safely, and to have attention to detail [to provide quality emergency care.]”
Providing en-mass quality emergency care requires the collaboration and teamwork of both the Army and Air National Guard.
“We each hold an integral piece of the puzzle to make this giant operation go,” Hendrix said. “Without the Army’s ability to provide manpower, their ability to decontaminate our patients, their ability to help extricate patients, their ability to maintain crowd control in a disaster environment, we couldn’t provide emergency medicine to these patients. Simply put, we need them, and they need us to help the people of FEMA Region IX.”
The 144th Med-Det 1, along with its sister Guard services, remain dedicated to assist the people of Region IX, which consists of California, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Republic of Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia.