JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
The 59th Medical Wing participated for the first time in Texas A&M University’s Disaster Day exercise at College Station, Texas, March 3, 2023.
Medical teams from across the 59th MDW came together and worked through real-world scenarios utilizing a Texas Air National Guard C-130J Super Hercules and Texas A&M’s Engineering Extension Service’s Disaster City training grounds.
“This is a complex exercise with multiple moving parts, which is exactly how we like it,” said Master Sgt. Douglas Gissendanner, 59th Medical Wing operational medicine senior enlisted leader.
Training consisted of multiple exercises where members of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets participated as simulated ambulatory patients that were cared for by Ground and Air Ready Medics inflight. The 559th En Route Patient Staging Squadron transported simulated patients to and from the aircraft, while the Critical Care Air Transport Team and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit cared for other simulated patients inflight.
“This is medical readiness,” Gissendanner said. “It’s a mindset and that mindset is actively looking for ways to provide sustainment training to our populace.”
Texas A&M University has been conducting emergency response training for 15 years helping medics to prepare for real-life emergencies at a national level. This year’s emergency simulation was a mass hurricane exercise. Details of the exercise were kept secret until the very last minute in order to have the most realistic response.
“If there’s a natural disaster, the governor or the state could say, ‘We're going to activate the Air National Guard to help us relocate patients,” Gissendanner said. “This is not an uncommon thing that happens in national disasters and that’s what we're simulating.”
Being able to train inflight and utilize Disaster City by collaborating with Texas A&M gives medics a way to hone their skills, prepare for national emergencies and remain ready medics.
“It was really vital for me to volunteer for this experience because I don’t usually have the opportunity to see the changes that trauma patients or burn victims would have to go through while also going through those turns that a plane experiences,” said Senior Airman Chynna Stewart, 559th Medical Squadron flight and operational medical technician. “At the end of the day, we’re all there with a common goal of making sure that we do everything we can to make sure that patient sees tomorrow and gets the proper care they need.”
Maintaining a military to civilian relationship is vital to be prepared in any emergency.
“We don't exist in silos,” Gissendanner said. “When something bad happens, whether it's here in the continental United States or overseas, we all come together as a team to get everything done. So this just further strengthens that bond between the two organizations.”