JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-Lackland, Texas —
More than 125 Airmen from the 59th Medical Wing at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland took part in a mass casualty exercise Nov. 28, 2018.
Personnel in the readiness office announced a simulated code orange, a hazardous material incident near the hospital, advising all personnel to avoid the area. Once the announcement was made, Airmen, who were put on nearly a dozen response teams, took immediate action.
“The exercise began as a mass casualty accident, where a bus was traveling with individuals in it, turned at a high speed and hit an insecticide tanker,” said Manuel Mateo, 59th Medical Wing inspection general exercise planner.
The scenario involved wing personnel treating approximately 30 “patients” with a variety of simulated injuries.
“One of the objectives [of this exercise] was to make sure ‘contaminated patients’ who wandered over to the WHASC, could not gain access into the facility,” Mateo said. “The second was to ensure the field response team established a medical treatment area for immediate personnel at the scene.”
Security teams went into action as the notice went out over the intercom system. They were in place to prevent the “contaminated” role players from entering the facility and to help inform patients and staff of the “danger”.
In the field, teams treated “crash victims” with their injuries assisting them to a decontamination station where additional personnel could prepare them for triage.
“We try to make these exercises as realistic as possible,” Mateo said. “It tests our clinical and field response teams, as well as their communication efficiency between wing personnel and the medical control center.”
The wing frequently conducts training exercises on the last Wednesday of every month, ensuring Airmen are ready to respond to a variety of scenarios.
“When we look at the continuous process improvement, the reason we do exercises is not to go out and say you did badly. There are always good things that come out of exercises,” Mateo said. “We do these so we can improve on the processes we have and to ensure we are getting better every time we do it. That’s the overall goal.”