The 56th Civil Engineer Squadron embarked on a journey Nov. 7 and 8 to Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field in Arizona to participate in bivouac training, preparing them for real deployments.
Those who participated were put through a series of scenarios that challenged their job knowledge, ability to operate and decision-making skills.
“We wanted to test planning and execution capabilities of our leadership while also providing a hands-on training opportunity for personnel,” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Dwyer, 56th CES prime base expeditionary emergency force manager. “It allowed us to practice and execute the very basic and fundamental requirements of a CE unit while enabling training without the distractions of the normal day-to-day operations.”
CES arrived to a dirt lot on base at Gila Bend. The exercise started immediately. The first goal was to set up an operational base from the ground up and have it running and fully functional before sundown. The dirt lot turned into a temporary encampment in about two hours.
They completed their initial goal faster than expected. Before evening formation, they had an hour of free time to unpack, nap or relax. After the formation, CES was released for the day. Some members played football, while others prepared for a long day ahead.
Physical training was in the morning and it consisted of a 3-mile run and the last Airman arriving in formation had to sprint to the front of the run formation. After PT, Airmen were dismissed to prepare for the activities.
They began the exercise with self-aid buddy care training. The training had members complete different scenarios on simulated patients. They started with two teams of three, each with their own medical kit. The goal was to successfully give aid to an injured person as quickly and correctly as possible. The teams had to run 40 yards to their patient, then received a card telling them the injuries to be treated. The cards included scenarios such as shrapnel wounds caused by the detonation of an improvised explosive device or a chest wound from an enemy gunshot.
“SABC helps us save lives,” said Airman 1st Class Emilio Cardenas, 56th CES electrician. “So when we do deploy we’re trained to save our wingman’s life and have him or her see another day.”
After the patients were successfully treated, they began the last of the exercises, land navigation.
They formed a patrol with three people in front, who led the team from checkpoint to checkpoint. While walking, the three in front looked for IEDs. When one was spotted, the patrol was halted, the area was analyzed and necessary actions were taken. They dealt with gunfire as well.
“The patrol exercise helped us in multiple areas from planning and execution to team building and unity,” Dwyer said. “We have a large squadron and an exercise like this allows us to meet, interact and work together with people that we don’t normally work with.”
The purpose of the experience was to help CE members take lessons learned with them when they deploy.
“There were a few things that we could have improved on internally, but overall the event was a great success,” Dwyer said. “We are already planning our next bivouac for 2013. We would like to have more scenario-based training allowing personnel to use their training throughout the year in order to accomplish tasks.”