Friday, August 31, 2018

Face of Defense: Guard Soldier Uses Medical Skills to Save Boy’s Life

By Army Staff Sgt. Michael Davis, New York National Guard

CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, N.Y. -- National Guard members spend countless hours every year training for the next big mission. For Army Spc. Nicole McKenzie, that mission wasn’t overseas -- it was just below an overpass on her way home from the Yonkers armory on Aug. 3.

McKenzie, a cable systems installer and maintainer with Company A, 101st Signal Battalion, New York Army National Guard, saw a flash of red going over a guardrail on the Saw Mill River Parkway and immediately pulled her car to the side of the road.

“I saw what looked like the outline of a boy going over the side,” McKenzie said. “I knew something was wrong.”

Her instincts had been sharpened by nearly six years of Army training, which erased all doubt and hesitation at the scene.

“Thanks to my Army training, it was all automatic; everything was fluid,” McKenzie said.

She ran over to the edge where she saw Police Officer Jessie Ferreira Cavallo, of the Hastings-on-Hudson police department already assessing the scene.


When McKenzie saw the 12-year-old boy lying on the rocks below, she shouted to Cavallo, “Let’s go!” They both ran to the shallow end of the overpass, climbed over a fence, and dropped 10 feet to the jagged ground below.

The boy, a resident of the Bronx, had left the Andrus campus in the Bronx. Andrus is a private, nonprofit organization that provides services for vulnerable children, children with special needs, and children with severe emotional and behavior issues.

Andrus staff were speaking with the boy when he jumped from the overpass he had been standing on.

McKenzie, who spent three years on active duty with the 168th Multifunctional Medical Battalion and just completed combat life-saving training with the Guard, immediately began to triage the injuries the boy sustained in the fall.

Quick Thinking, Treatment

She used quick thinking to improvise a flashlight from her phone to administer a concussion test, took his vital signs, and kept talking to him so he stayed awake and alert.

Next, she shouted to a bystander above to grab the medical bag from her trunk and throw it down.

Working in tandem with Cavallo, they used splints from her bag to secure his neck, arm and leg, and stayed with him until the medics arrived and took him to the Westchester hospital.

The Westchester County Police records department confirmed the assistance from McKenzie and the pivotal role that both the National Guard and local police played in working together to assist the young boy.

McKenzie doesn’t think she’s a hero. For her, it’s all about loyalty to her unit and her community.

“I wear the uniform every day because I want to help soldiers -- I want to help people,” McKenzie said. “This is my family.”

Maritime Pre-positioning Ships Squadron Conducts Group Sail with Guam Units

By Military Sealift Command Far East, Maritime Prepositioning Ships Squadron Three

PACIFIC OCEAN -- Maritime Pre-positioning Ships Squadron Three successfully conducted its third multiship training exercise, Group Sail, Aug. 19-24, off the coast of Saipan, the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.

Although this was the third Group Sail exercise, this was the first time many of the ship’s captains and their crew participated in an event of this scale. Group Sail spanned five days and included seven pre-positioning ships -- USNS 1st Lt. Jack Lummus, USNS Dahl, USNS 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo, USNS John Glenn, USNS Sacagawea, USNS Pililaau and MV Capt. David I. Lyon.

The schedule focused on the skill sets necessary to ensure the safety and security of the Military Sealift Command’s assets. To improve crew proficiency, the squadron rehearsed formation steaming, emissions control drills, flashing light communications, torpedo evasion and maneuvering tactics, mine avoidance and anti-submarine tactics.

The staff had an added bonus of conducting storm-avoidance procedures as the initial schedule had to be amended due to bad weather and Typhoon Cimaron.

The training event offered the opportunity to exercise with several units in Guam. These joint exercises included the participation of Helicopter Squadron 25, Special Boat Team 12 from Naval Special Warfare Unit 1 and rigid-hulled inflatable boats from Pacific Missile Range Facility.

Medevac exercises and boat operations with these units provided scale and value, rarely seen in typical training evolutions.

‘Rare, Invaluable’ Training Opportunity

“Training with an actual formation and target representative opposition forces in a restricted water environment is a rare and invaluable opportunity for our pilots and aircrew," said Navy Lt. Adam Shields, assistant training officer, Helicopter Squadron 25. "MPSRON 3’s willingness to build this high fidelity, realistic training makes HSC-25 better prepared to meet the demanding requirements in our area of responsibility.”

Throughout day and night simulated strait transits off the coast of Guam, Helicopter Squadron 25 provided overwatch to the MPSRON squadron while small craft from Special Boat Team 12  and Pacific Missile Range Facility engaged in harassment tactics. The Group Sail exercise culminated in a ship group photo assisted by HSC-25.

“As the newest member of the staff I really didn’t know what to expect,” said Navy Lt. j.g. Brian Lasley, supply officer in MPSRON 3. “This was my first Group Sail event, and I was excited to see what our ships could do. I was truly impressed by the ship handling and communications between the staff and the mariners on watch on USNS Bobo. Having the captain on the bridge during the evolutions was a great chance to witness a glimpse of the inner workings of what it takes to command a vessel as large as the John P. Bobo.”

Transporting Vital Equipment, Supplies

MPSRON 3 operates in the Western Pacific under the command of Navy Capt. Eric Lindfors and maintains tactical control of 16 ships carrying afloat pre-positioned U.S. military cargo for the Marine Corps, the Army, and the Air Force. The squadron’s mission is to provide swift and effective transportation of vital equipment and supplies for designated operations.

“I am very proud of the teamwork and professionalism exhibited by all participants during challenging conditions brought on by Typhoon Cimaron. The training that was completed focused on our core capabilities that must be continually maintained up to high-end tactics for coordinated defense of these global and strategic assets,” said Lindfors, who also carries the distinction of commodore for MPSRON 3.

“We could have not completed our requirements without the phenomenal support from HSC-25, SBT 12 and PMRF,” he added. “I look forward to our next event and building on what we have learned and how we can include several other local Guam commands so we can further improve the training.”

Army Medics Test Skills at Competition in Germany

By Army Sgt. Benjamin Northcutt, 21st Theater Sustainment Command

BAUMHOLDER, Germany -- It is 6 a.m. and a light mist begins to fall on Minick Field here.

Fourteen medical professionals, representing the best of the best from their units, await the opening event, a physical fitness assessment at the 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s annual Best Medic Competition, held Aug. 27-30.

Soldiers from Regional Health Command Europe, 18th Military Police Brigade and 30th Medical Brigade, among others, tested their medical skills, physical fitness and basic soldier task skills during the four-day event.

The competition was split into two teams. One team comprised of competitors from the 30th Medical Brigade and the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, and the other team comprised of competitors from Regional Health Command Europe.

Army Capt. Stona Jackson and Army Sgt. 1st Class Steven Lockwood won the competition for Regional Health Command Europe, while Army 1st Lt. Keith Ammerman and Army Sgt. Jake Weingartz, won from 30th Medical Brigade. They were recognized during the Aug. 30 closing ceremony, and will advance to the Department of the Army-level competition -- the 2018 Command Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Clark Best Medic Competition at Camp Bullis, Texas, in September.

Testing Medics’ Readiness

"The concept of the competition was to test each soldier on their ability to perform tactical combat casualty care, as well as their physical and mental agility throughout the competition," said Army 1st Lt. Brianna Brown, 30th Medical Brigade, who served as the event coordinator. "More so, it is designed to test the readiness of our medics to perform under stressful conditions and throughout daily situations they might encounter."

The event also gives competitors the opportunity to put their skills on display in a contingency environment.

"These competitions are about making sure soldiers are prepared for anything and this competition allows these medics skills and abilities to shine," said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew Baller, senior noncommissioned officer for the 30th Medical Brigade. You never know what to expect, and at any time we must always be ready to answer our nation’s call. This type of event showcases Army medicine, and what our medics bring to the fight when called.”
Army Sgt. Jake Weingartz, assigned to 30th Medical Brigade, dons his protective gear during a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear event during the 21st Theater Sustainment

The competition was broken down into four days. Events included: a physical fitness assessment, M4 rifle qualification and stress shoot, tactical combat casualty care, tailgate medicine, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive event, a mystery event, obstacle course, day and night land navigation, a written exam and a 12-mile foot march followed by the award ceremony to announce the winners.

The winners discussed their experiences and lessons learned during the competition. For Jackson, this was about redeeming himself for a disappointing performance in last year's competition.

“It is a lot of lessons learned. Slowing down, and making sure I check all the boxes and try not to rush what I am doing,” he said.

Sharpening Skills

Weingartz offered a perspective of learning to grow through the competition.

“I think it is about finding our weaknesses and strengths, and then sharpening our skills to adapt and overcome,” Weingartz said.

All the competitors have earned the Expert Field Medic Badge, the Combat Medical Badge, or both. The purpose of the competition was to test the readiness of these soldiers and find out who are the best medics.

“Train hard, hone your skills and come with the right attitude,” Weingartz said. “That’s what it takes to win.”