Team March hosts full spectrum joint medical readiness exercise

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Russell S. McMillan
  • 452 AMW Public Affairs

More than 250 Reservists, Guardsmen, and Corpsmen participated in triaging, treating and transporting simulated mass casualty patients during MegaCode 2018, a two-day medical exercise here June 23 to June 24, 2018.


“MegaCode 2018 is a joint exercise that looks at what it takes to move a patient within the aeromedical evacuation system, from point of injury to arrival of definitive or final level of care,” said Maj. Venus Victorino, lead planner of the exercise and Critical Care Air Transport Team nurse with the 943rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.


Marking its third iteration at March Air Reserve Base, the joint medical training exercise took approximately 15 months to organize and prepare for, included 47 distinct simulated patient casualty scenarios. It incorporated use of a 452nd Air Mobility Wing KC-135 Stratotanker and C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and leveraged other areas of full spectrum readiness training, added Victorino.


“We familiarize [ourselves with] how to load patients, respond to in-flight emergencies, train in a joint environment, and many other training components,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Jim McNair, CCATT nurse, 163rd Medical Group, California Air National Guard, March ARB.


Simulated patients started their day early at the expeditionary medical support facility in building 458, diligently applying makeup to mimic bone fractures, shrapnel wounds and other types of injuries.


The scenario of a simulated improvised explosive device detonating on a bus full of service members kick-started the full spectrum medical response.


“Inside of the full spectrum readiness term is the full deployment-related sustainment training,” said Victorino. “For this scenario, we are taking a look at the Battalion Aid Station, which is fulfilled by our U.S. Navy partners, who provide the point of injury, care, damage control surgery and resuscitation.”


U.S. Air Force and Navy personnel worked hand in hand to respond and render aid to simulated victims suffering from varying degrees of injury. Simulated patients were triaged and transported from the BAS via a specially modified bus, customized with to carry patient stretchers known as litters. Additionally, simulated patients created realistic challenges for first responders by acting – symptoms of shock and emotional distress were supplemented to their physical injuries.


“It’s a great opportunity to learn more about other services,” said U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Cameron Carden, Expeditionary Medical Force, Detachment D, Camp Pendleton, Calif. Carden, a first-time participant in a MegaCode exercise also had the opportunity to observe a Tunner 60K Loader transfer simulated patients on board a 452nd AMW KC-135 Stratotanker.


“The experience is great,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Juan Morales, diagnostic imaging technician with the 752nd Medical Squadron, March ARB. “In the real world it’s a joint force and we get to learn [each other’s’] style of operations.”


Morales provided mobile X-ray support to simulated patients within the Expeditionary Medical Support facility. The EMEDS facility provides a wide range of support services depending on the type and severity of injury, including but not limited to an operating room for surgeries, pharmacy, dental, optometry and dietary section.


“We’re different services but we all fight the same fight,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ashley Bernhardt, education and training non-commissioned officer in charge, and part of the MegaCode 2018 planning team with the 752nd MDS, March ARB.


Part of the final exercise culminated with simulated critical patients transported via military ambulance and bus to a taxiing 452nd AMW C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. Citizen Airmen from Reserve and Guard CCATTs practiced loading and unloading of the patients, along with a brief flight for a realistic aeromedical operation.


“It’s a mobile ICU [intensive care unit],” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Arvin Jacinto, respiratory therapist, 452nd Aeromedical Staging Squadron CCATT, March ARB. “We transport critical ICU patients from point A to point B in a nonconventional environment and adapt to that environment when providing care.”


Near the conclusion of the exercise a couple themes became evident: effective communication amongst services and teamwork.


“One observation I have seen is the great teamwork,” said Victorino. “In this exercise, we had service members integrated in teams learning how to operate in other people’s jobs. I think that is a unique piece and people are very excited doing that.”


The following units participated in this year’s MegaCode 2018 exercise:


  • 163rd Medical Group, Critical Care Air Transport Team, California Air National Guard, March Air Reserve Base, Calif.

  • 452nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, March ARB, Calif.

  • 452nd AMW Medical Group, March ARB, Calif.

  • 452nd Aerospace Medical Squadron, March ARB, Calif.

  • 452nd Aeromedical Staging Squadron, March ARB, Calif.

  • 752nd Medical Squadron, March ARB, Calif.

  • 943rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

  • Expeditionary Medical Force, Detachments B, D, F, Camp Pendleton, Calif.