Team Edwards kicked off the new fiscal year Oct. 1 with exercise Desert Wind 13-01, testing the base’s response capabilities to a major aircraft incident. Personnel were assessed by the Exercise Evaluation Team throughout three strategic objective phases in response to an F-16 Fighting Falcon that crashed during a routine training mission.
Personnel worked throughout the day and were evaluated on the initial notification process, which includes notifying the proper agencies, and ensuring that the information passed to first responders is correct and arrives in a timely manner. Medical response to the injured pilot was also assessed, along with the death notification process of an active duty service member.
“The exercise was a success. We learned some things that we need to tighten up and introduced props for the first time to increase the realism. I’m very pleased with the results,” said Frank Sporer, 412th Plans and Programs installation EET chief.
While the Edwards community is no stranger to participating in exercises such as Desert Wind 13-01, for the first time medical personnel had a valuable resource to enhance the training experience. Rather than simulating medical procedures on volunteers, the 412th Medical Group had the opportunity to practice the real thing on a new, highly advanced piece of equipment.
“The METIman mannequin is a highly technical, highly advanced mannequin that assists in training. It added to the training scenario by allowing us to go beyond our normal capabilities using volunteers as patients,” said Ryan Billings, 412th MDG Emergency Medical Technician program manager. “We can’t start an IV on patients, we can’t see significant injuries, and we can’t cut their legs open to facilitate bleeding. This allows us to do that.”
The mannequin is operated through a simulator, which is controlled wirelessly from a nearby laptop. It gives the operator complete control over the patient’s environment. The technology provides virtually a limitless variety of scenarios for medical personnel to train with.
“The only way you can get that kind of experience is through actual real-world events. And we don’t want those happening,” said Billings.
The 412th MDG ordered the mannequin direct from the company METIman and decided on the model that focuses on the pre-hospital setting – an ideal choice for practicing emergency response capabilities to a major aircraft incident, as well as other exercise scenarios the Edwards community faces, such as disaster response.
“The mannequin really suits our needs; it’s designed for the pre-hospitable setting. It focuses a lot of its enhancements and computer programs for that environment.
The types of injuries we would see normally. We could take it, put it in a car and simulate injuries resulting from a car accident. For this exercise, we used him as an aircraft pilot who ejected during a crash,” said Billings.
“The paramedics had to go out there and actually treat and practice to the best of their abilities on this mannequin. He had a closed head injury; an open femur fracture; he had a punctured chest and having this resource allowed our medics to practice those advanced life support skills,” he continued.
In addition to allowing personnel from the 412th MDG to realistically practice lifesaving medical procedures, the $50,000 mannequin breathes, talks, bleeds and can be easily configured to meet the various training needs.
“What happened in the past is volunteers would show up and we would have these staged, real life patients with makeup on them. We would attach a card to them that said what their symptoms were. But most of the time the responders saw that and the realism factor went out the window,” said Randall Wells, 412th MDG EET chief.
“They wouldn’t break out the equipment half the time because they knew this wasn’t real.”
Bringing in the METIman mannequin for Desert Wind 13-01 forced responders to not only ask questions, but gave them valuable experience as they had to treat the patient in real time, while being evaluated by the EET.
More realistic training for medical personnel keeps the Edwards community safer and improves the base’s readiness for real-world scenarios.
“From the perspective of the Exercise Evaluation Team, the sky is the limit. There are all kinds of things we’re going to do with this guy,” said Wells.