by Senior Airman Trevor Rhynes
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
5/14/2015 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Members
of the 22nd Medical Group, the Robert J. Dole Veterans Affairs Medical
Center and representatives from local hospitals participated in a
National Medical Disaster System training exercise, May 13, here.
The training provided an opportunity for the participants to prepare for
an event where hospitals and treatment facilities in an area wouldn't
be able to provide care for patients, forcing them to send patients
As part of the exercise a Minnesota Air National Guard C-130 Hercules landed here with "patients" in various states of care.
"At the Bob Dole VA, we are a Federal Coordinating Center through the
national medical disaster system," said Gary Hillan, Robert J. Dole
Veterans Affairs Medical Center emergency management specialist. "We'd
receive patients from an area where there are no longer resources to
take care of them because of a hurricane or another disaster."
As a FCC and NDMS facility, the VA Medical Center must remain current on
certain tasks to retain their status as an entity that could help in
the event of a disaster.
"We have partnered with McConnell to be the area where medevacs come to
deliver patients," Hillan said. "We, as the NDMS hospital, would receive
the patients that the Air Force would bring to us. The medics from base
will advise the VA medics as to the condition and give all relevant
information for the patients where we'd track the information and send
them to local hospitals, based on bed availability and severity of
Hillan said the process can seem complex, but the VA is required to perform three exercises a year to ensure proficiency.
For many of the 22nd MDG Airmen, this was a chance to get away from
their normal routine and work on some techniques they may not practice
"We normally focus on patient care, but it's great to get out and
participate in these kinds of training opportunities," said Airman 1st
Class Daniel Reid, 22nd Medical Operations Squadron family health
technician. "We had a lot of fun, and it reminds us of the various
things we're trained to do."
For some of the Airmen participating, it was the first chance they had to partake in an event like this exercise.
"This was brand new to a lot of us here, so it was a learning process
for us," said Reid. "We're involved with a lot of the hands-on elements
of the exercise, like moving the patients to the triage tents. Moving
patients onto and off of an aircraft may seem easy, but there's a ton of
finer details that we have to pay attention to. We're significantly
better than when we started."