163rd Medical Group trains for the worst-case scenario

Nurses and doctors from Arrowhead Regional Medical Center gathered at March Air Reserve Base

recently to teach Airmen from the 163d Medical Group various emergency medical skills.

The project was led by Dr. Michael Neeki, the Chief Medical Officer for the San Bernardino

County Medical Services, who is also head of the center.

Neeki was one of the first medical professionals to respond to the Dec. 2015 terrorist attack in nearby

San Bernardino that killed 14 people and wounded more than 20 others. He served as a tactical

physician at the site until every victim was treated. The mass shooting inspired him to create a

course to train qualified medical personnel to save lives in the event of an active shooter.

“We’re teaching the members how to stop various forms of bleeding, how to pack a wound and how to

apply a tourniquet,” said Sonny Alforja, a registered nurse and trauma coordinator at the center. “I’m a

military brat so it’s great to be around all of the military life again. It’s not really a big deal or unusual to

me. “

Neeki believes tactical medicine skills can help save a lot of lives during emergencies, and he is very

happy to teach it to members of the military, whom he believes need this sort of training the most.

“The U.S. military is in a special place,” said Neeki. “They are always prepared for whatever life training

they are offered. I’m always glad to offer whatever support I can, and I love to teach the military.”

This was the first time Neeki offered a course on a military installation, but he plans to continue contact

with the medical group to provide more training to them in the future. Though organized and hosted by

the 163d, members of the 452d Air Mobility Wing and active duty components were also invited to

attend.

“It’s so great,” said Tech. Sgt. Rikki Waddek of the 912th Air Refueling Squadron here at March. “It’s not

very often that you see active duty, Guard and Reserves working together. It’s also good to see what’s

going on in the civilian medical world.” The course was held for two days and included class sessions and

hands-on training.

“The military is strong and they are essential,” said Dr. Troy Pennington, a trauma doctor at the center.

“Courses like these will make them stronger. It is always good to be here teaching them.”