HomeNewsArticle Display

118th Medical Group train for expanded tactical care mission

Members from the 118th Medical Group (MDG), Tennessee Air National Guard, carry a stretcher during a search and rescue exercise Sept. 12, 2021 in Ventura, California. 118th MDG members traveled to California to simulate an earthquake scenario, and get training on their new En-Route Patient Stating System capabilities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jeremy Cornelius)

Members from the 118th Medical Group (MDG), Tennessee Air National Guard, carry a stretcher during a search and rescue exercise Sept. 12, 2021 in Ventura, California. 118th MDG members traveled to California to simulate an earthquake scenario, and get training on their new En-Route Patient Stating System capabilities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jeremy Cornelius)

VENTURA, CA -- On the sun-scorched, rolling hills outside Ventura, California, four medical tents bustle with activity as dozens of Air Force medical personnel attend to wave-upon-wave of patients. Medics are pushed to the limit by the number of injured and the ensuing chaos resulting from a mass casualty event.

Simulating a southern California earthquake in which local hospitals are overwhelmed, 65 members of the Tennessee Air National Guard’s 118th Medical Group (MDG) and support staff from the 118th Wing  took part in a training exercise Sept. 5-14, 2021 to prepare them for front-line patient staging during contingency operations.

With a new federal tasking for the 118th MDG to expand its deployable mass casualty care team from 10 to 28, training was necessary to get new members spun up. The additional staff increases the number of treatable patients from 10 to more than 50.

"This mission is so important because it increases our ability to manage more patients when federally activated," said Col. Grace Gibbs, 118th MDG commander. "And we're more capable of responding domestically when called upon by the Governor of the State of Tennessee."

Air National Guard (ANG) units from Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, and California joined the 118th MDG to benefit from the training and share their knowledge and experience. The mix of organizations and unique medical challenges each face within their areas of responsibility benefitted all involved.

"California [units] have a completely different geographical landscape, seasons, and natural disasters than the state of Tennessee," said Capt. Ian McEwan, 118th MDG administrative officer. “Given the same problem, they would have very different ways to tackle it. Stick them together, and you get a mixed product that not only gets the job done but can have lasting effects on the members involved."

Training began with two days of Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) and culminated in a hands-on day that put new skills into action during a mock mass casualty event. TCCC was developed to reduce preventable deaths while maintaining operation success by focusing on controlling massive bleeding, airway management, respiration and breathing management, evaluating and treating circulation, and preventing hypothermia.

"We started off with our medical provider course with a lot of in-class training to help refresh and review skills, and we then transpose those into second-day lane-training for muscle memory," said McEwan. "This includes setting up a security perimeter, clearing the area and locating patients, treating patients, and then extricating them out of a dangerous situation to a secure location where they can be properly treated and getting them out of there."

In addition to TCCC training, members learned the En-Route Patient Staging System (ERPSS). Medical organizations use this system during military operations, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations, and defense support to civil authorities. Additionally, it is used for temporary staging, casualty care, and administrative support during contingencies.

"The ERPSS mission is important because it's the part people never think about and assume it is there," said McEwan. "Most people think treatment. Got to save this person! Okay, that is done, and they are on to the next person, but what about the person they just saved? ERPSS is that mechanism that bridges the gap – the grey area most people assume is happening."

Training included several scenarios that pushed newly trained and seasoned Airmen to their limits. The primary scenario revolved around a simulated terror attack on a train, which resulted in a derailment that caused numerous significant injuries.

Resembling a scene from a horror movie, dozens of mock wounded with horrific injuries were strewn throughout the train. Medics put their training into action and first cleared the smoke-filled train of terrorists. They then quickly located the injured, accessed their condition, and stabilized their injuries before evacuating them to safety. For many of the Airmen involved, the training was an eye-opener.

"As a medical technician, I work in a clinic that's very controlled, very relaxed, and I can think clearly. In ERPSS it’s quite the opposite,” said Senior Airman Maria Deavers, 118th MDG medic. "There are possible gunshot wounds, explosions, smoke. It's very chaotic, and it takes a minute for someone like me to calm down in order to finish the mission."

The success of this exercise was evident in the 118th MDG’s ability to quickly absorb TCCC and ERPSS processes and procedures and positively influence the outcome of the real-world scenarios thrown at it during the exercise.

"This exercise was very important, especially for my junior enlisted. Some of them have never been on a deployment or even had a chance to participate in an exercise like this," said Gibbs. "I'm very proud of my Medical Group people and of the other groups that brought people. We've learned a lot from each other, and I value the relationships we've built that will not only benefit the 118th Medical Group back home in Nashville, but wherever we're called to in the future."

*** Special thanks to The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation for allowing the 118th MDG to use its facility for this training.***

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.