Friday, December 08, 2017

Firefighters Brave, Extinguish Flames at Patriot Warrior Exercise

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Efren Lopez, 4th Combat Camera Squadron

FORT MCCOY, Wis., Dec. 8, 2017 — The call to serve, protect and cover your buddy’s back is a common theme in the military, and military firefighters fully embrace that concept.

Patriot Warrior is the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command's four-week exercise at Young Air Assault Strip and Volk Field Air National Guard Base.

Citizen-airmen come together to sharpen their skills, and the exercise provides an opportunity for the airmen to train with joint services and is designed to test their ability to provide combat-ready forces and operate in dynamic, contested environments.

‘Difficult, Uncomfortable Situations’

"They put us in difficult, uncomfortable situations, but that's when we learn the most," said Air Force Senior Airman Adam Coyle, a 445th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Six different squadrons of firefighters from across the country participated in this year’s Patriot Warrior, with many of the firefighters slated to deploy overseas in the next year. Besides learning to operate in a joint environment, the airmen engaged in hands-on training, not just with other Air Force firefighters, but with Army firefighters as well.
An Air Force firefighter participates in a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive class during exercise Patriot Warrior at Young Air Assault Strip, Fort McCoy, Wis.
An Air Force firefighter participates in a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive class during exercise Patriot Warrior at Young Air Assault Strip, Fort McCoy, Wis., Aug. 11, 2017. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Efren Lopez

The teams battle controlled burns, attend land navigation classes and update their proficiency with firefighting tools while learning about the structure, systems and challenges that occur in a variety of scenarios. They also become well acquainted with the emergency procedures of the C-130 Hercules aircraft and Army HH-60M Black Hawk medevac helicopters.

Leaping Flames, Choking Smoke

By far, the most memorable event is the jet fuel fire-pit training. Flames leap and provide a massive pillar of smoke as the firefighters practice attack tactics, as they combat the aircraft fires.

"This hands-on training would not be possible back at home station, which doesn’t have those types of capabilities or funding,” said Air Force Senior Airman Alexandrina Lopez, a 445th CES firefighter.

During the exercise, the service members practiced automobile extrication where vehicles are set up to simulate accidents with trapped passengers. The scenario is developed to train them on practical skills as well as challenging their decision-making abilities as they apply various tactics to secure the vehicles and save the victims. "I joined firefighting because I think it’s the greatest job in the world. I love going to work, helping people, and doing something I always wanted to do since I was a kid," said Air Force Senior Airman Jacob Conway, a firefighter with the 445th CES.

Face of Defense: Strong-Willed Soldier Gives Cancer the Boot

By Annette P. Gomes U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command

ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 8, 2017 — Described as strong, smart, driven and determined -- one would be surprised to find Army Spc. Courtney Jones doesn’t don a Wonder Woman costume, but she displays her red, white and blue human spirit through the Army uniform she wears.

Today she lives a childhood dream and family legacy of serving her country that she was determined to follow.

“Most of my family is made up of police officers. However, my grandfather was in the Army and served in Vietnam. He eventually retired as a captain, and certainly had a lot of great advice for me, so quite naturally getting to be a part of the Army has been a big accomplishment for me,” said Jones, who is assigned to the U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition Program here.

‘I Have Always Dared to be Different’

“I’ve always dreamt of entering the Army,” she added. “I have always dared to be different and love taking risk. My other dream as a kid was to be a stunt woman.”

Jones entered the Army in 2016 as a cannon crew member, a field previously closed to women. She was selected to attend the first basic training and advanced individual training classes open to women at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

“It was definitely an amazing experience. However, there were a lot of obstacles to overcome. When we first arrived there were no female barracks or restrooms. At first everyone was a little unsure about us being there, but it was all about us getting out there and proving we were just as good as anyone else. We’re here to stay,” Jones said.

It’s that fighting spirit the 22-year-old Jones would lean on shortly after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. After the diagnosis, she was notified she would need radiation treatment.

“Receiving the diagnosis of Hodgkin's Lymphoma was definitely surprising to me, but my main concern was whether they would let me proceed though AIT or give me the boot,” she said. “I passed my Army Physical Fitness Test and physical demands test with cancer. I apparently had cancer a few months before starting AIT. After the diagnosis, I got my port put in and started treatment while finishing and graduating as an official [cannon crew member].”

Determined to Succeed

Determined to fight the medical evaluation board review, Jones requested the opportunity to prove she could still perform the duties of a cannon crew member. She began working with the division artillery. On her first day, she completed a four-mile ruck march to the small arms range.

Despite beginning at the back of the formation, she finished at the front. For the rest of that day, Jones focused on artillery skills proficiency testing. Command officials say she had a faster disassemble and assembly time than a majority of their soldiers.

“My determination just stems from a very headstrong and positive outlook; I believe anybody can do anything they put their mind to,” she said. “This was definitely a dream of mine and I couldn't give up no matter what was thrown in my way.”

And just as the fictional superhero Wonder Woman fights for truth, Jones says her success is due to her inner truth and a testament to the human spirit.

“I never let someone tell you can’t do something or you’re not good enough because with the right determination and attitude you can do anything,” Jones said. “The human spirit can push someone to do things they never thought possible, and my spirit to drive on with prayer and family, supports me along the way to accomplish my goals.”

Jones is in remission and will return to active duty upon completing her chemotherapy treatment. She plans on attending veterinary school in the future.

‘Robot Dog’ Improves Special Operations’ Canine Medical Aid Practices

By Marine Corps Cpl. Bryann K. Whitley, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., Dec. 8, 2017 — Multipurpose canine handlers with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, used a robotic canine training mannequin for the first time during hands-on medical training at Stone Bay here between Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

The simulator, one of two prototypes being developed between U.S. Special Operations Command and industry partners, challenged handlers and medical staff with the wide range of scenarios available through its realistic reactions to injuries and treatments.

‘Robot Dog’ Mannequin

The development of this new “robot dog” came from Socom’s desire to improve the current medical training capabilities of canine handlers. Currently, the special operations forces community uses stuffed dogs, called critical-care jerry dogs, to train and refine medical techniques and procedures.

The static nature of the jerry dogs limits the instructors’ ability to evaluate dog handlers’ and medical team members’ capabilities to properly perform medical aid on canines. The service members also heavily rely on force veterinarians to provide scenarios and injury descriptions, which limit training opportunities to garrison training environments due to unavailability of veterinarians in a deployed environment.

“Our handlers are the first line of aid for their dogs when deployed, secondary to special amphibious reconnaissance corpsmen,” said a MARSOC East force veterinarian. “They are the first responders, so they need to know how to treat any injury that happens on the battlefield.”

All Joints Move Like a Real Dog’s

Socom’s desire to provide better training and increased capabilities to deploying teams kick-started the development of this new “robot dog.” The prototype is designed to look like a Belgian Malinois, one of the commonly used breeds in the military canine force. All of the joints on the mannequin move like a real dog’s, unlike a jerry dog where there is no movement. Limbs can also be changed out, to simulate different injuries depending on the training scenario’s objectives.

Some possible injuries include lacerations on paws and legs, as well as fractures. Supervising veterinarians can have injuries release simulated blood, change respiration or pulse rate and quality, as well as have the mannequin produce barking or whining noises, all of which improve the realism of the training.

Canine handlers must rely on their own knowledge and senses to determine what injuries are present. Handlers must go through a step-by-step process to determine how to best administer aid to their canines in order to stabilize them and get them to a veterinarian.

“[Having this capability during training] helps you not second guess yourself when deployed,” said a MARSOC canine handler. “You’re able to realize that you’ve used these steps before in training. And they worked in training so they will work when needed. As long as you continue with the steps and do everything properly, you’ll be successful and save your dog.”

Useful Capabilities

With the additional capabilities provided from the prototype, handlers can practice a wider range of scenarios including performing a tracheotomy or intubation, full CPR with reactive responses, administer IVs, and practice counteracting evisceration injuries.

When proper medical aid is administered, handlers can see vitals stabilize in moments and verify they are applying aid properly. All of these training advancements allow for a more thorough and advanced training for handlers to help aid their furry partners on the battlefield.

Production for this new prototype is planned to start in March 2018, after feedback from the final training iterations has been reviewed. Once fielded, the training device will be made available across the military canine force, potentially as early as April 2018.