Medical personnel from the 412th Medical Group conducted vital life-saving training on “dustoff” procedures at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., July 15, 2021.
The MDG Airmen were trained on proper patient loading procedures and safe aircraft approach on two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.
“It’s an essential deployment skill, and the litter carry portion, could even be used stateside in case of emergency,” said Lt. Col. Yvonne Storey, 412th MDG. “Knowing how to properly lift a patient, carry your patient is key.”
The training was facilitated by Soldiers of C Company, 2916th Aviation Battalion, 916th Support Brigade, from nearby Fort Irwin. Also Known as “Desert Dustoff,” C Company is tasked with providing air medevac support for the National Training Center, where Army brigades train for combat in the austere Mojave desert environment.
One of the trainers, flight medic Staff Sgt. Deric Randol, demonstrated the proper way to approach the medevac aircraft. He told the Airmen to never approach the aircraft until instructed to do so by aircraft personnel, he added to due to winds or terrain, the Blackhawks’ rotor blades could dip as low as four feet off the ground.
“My biggest concern is whenever we pick up a patient…there’s usually no planning ahead of time as we pick up and go,” Randol said. “And we hope that when we land on ground, that the personnel on the ground are aware of this prior to getting a patient on board just because of all the safety considerations in play: you got the active rotor systems, you got the tail rotor system. We don’t want people just rushing up to the aircraft so it’s important for them to know on ground what we expect from a safety standpoint as well as what can help for a better patient outcome in the future.”
Due to the lack of emergency room facilities on Edwards, base emergency first-responders must rely on outside agencies such as Fort Irwin or the Los Angeles County Fire Department for air medevac support.
Another point that trainers wanted to share with the Airmen was that how different aircraft have different patient loading procedures, Blackhawk crews, for example require that patient litters be loaded feet-first. This allows flight medics the maximum amount of space and maneuverability to provide care for patients, Randol explained.
“It’s important in fact that we have a standard load and unload portion of it so that during an emergency, it’s pretty much known across the board how to approach and exit an aircraft with a patient,” said Maj. Michael Chase, C Company commander. “The sooner we can get the patient on board, the sooner we can depart and get that that patient to the level of care that is required for that patient.”
Desert Dustoff also renders services to civilian agencies throughout San Bernardino County, air medevac provides timely critical emergency response in remote locations.
“So the biggest benefit is we can be anywhere you need us fast, and we’re gonna provide the best possible patient care we can,” Randol said. “We’re here to help. We’re here to support if they ever need us, don’t be afraid to call us in if they truly need that medical asset in play.”