CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo — The Camp Bondsteel Hospital recently updated its standing operating procedures (SOP) for mass casualty (MASCAL) scenarios and tested it during an exercise April 16.
"The best way to make sure that something works is to rehearse and to do drills," said Army Master Sgt. Joe Allan Jones, a combat medic from Birmingham, Ala. "This is something we do all the time, to Army standards."
Task Force Medical Falcon’s Medical Operations section, including Jones and Army Staff Sgt. Tameka Watts, of Louisville, Ky., conducted the MASCAL exercise in order to evaluate the resources and personnel of Camp Bondsteel Hospital.
Nine U.S. soldiers lay strewn about an open field with various simulated injuries after they were involved in a staged serious incident. The realistic make-up worn by the "injured," along with spurting fake blood, added to drama. They were inflicted with abdominal wounds, third-degree burns, serious head trauma and everything in between.
Within minutes of the nine-line medevac call to the Multinational Battle Group-East (MNBG E) battle desk, an Army UH-60 Blackhawk medevac helicopter from the 169th Aviation Battalion of the Kentucky National Guard was fired up and in the air.
At the same time, members of the MNBG E’s Task Force Medical Falcon Ground Ambulance Team progressed to the scene.
The ground and air medical evacuation teams converged on the "injured" soldiers, triaging their wounds and prioritizing who would be evacuated first by air and then who would be transported by ground ambulance. On-site treatment was provided to some, while others were stabilized and loaded into the helicopter to be flown to more advanced care at Camp Bondsteel Hospital.
The helicopter made two quick sorties to the incident site, ultimately transporting four wounded soldiers to the Camp Bondsteel Hospital. Five other soldiers were taken to the hospital by ground ambulance.
Jones said the action continued at the hospital site as simulated casualities were attended to by the staff.
"This is extremely realistic training for our medics and all of our hospital staff," Jones said. "Everyone at the hospital is working like mad, right now."
Earlier in the day, the hospital ground medics and the helicopter crew practiced hot and cold-load scenarios for taking wounded soldiers on and off of the helicopter. Cold-loading takes place when the chopper is not operating and hot-loading happens when the blades are turning.
Jones said the entire day of exercises was necessary to identify any disconnects in the new MASCAL plan to ensure successful execution when responding to real-world incidents.
"We had to put our new SOP to the test and I think we achieved that," Jones said. "Everyone, including, our medics on the ground, the crew in the air and our doctors and nurses in the hospital, worked together diligently and professionally so we can continue to improve on our mission of saving lives."
Multinational Battle Group East is a U.S.- led unit, commanded by Army Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann. This Battle Group is comprised of nearly 1,200 soldiers, including representatives from Greece, Poland, Turkey and Ukraine. The charter mission of MNBG E is maintaining a safe and secure environment and providing freedom of movement for the people in Kosovo.