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USAF, RAAF team up for Cope North aero evac exercise

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Marianique Santos
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force aeromedical evacuation teams worked together on a simulated patient transport using a Japan Air Self-Defense Force C-130 Feb. 18 during a combined humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR) exercise over the Pacific Ocean in support of exercise Cope North 2014.

During the exercise, U.S. and Australian medical crews worked together as one team to move simulated patients from a disaster site on Tinian Island onto a JASDF C-130H Hercules where medical care was provided for the duration of the flight back to Andersen.

Cope North is a multilateral exercise that focuses on mission readiness, air combat tactics, large force employment, and HADR training. The exercise participants included U.S., Australian, and Japanese air forces. The exercise takes place annually at Andersen, and increases mission readiness and joint interoperability.

"I was very pleased to see how the Australian and U.S. Aeromedical Evacuation teams worked together and learned from each other throughout the exercise," said U.S. Air Force Col. Paul Friedrichs, Pacific Air Forces command surgeon. "This is a great demonstration of what we can do together."

A day prior to combining the teams, the AE crews from both nations first demonstrated their capabilities to each other. The Australian team shadowed the U.S. team in the morning onboard a JASDF aircraft. The teams switched roles in the afternoon while flying on a RAAF aircraft.

"(Feb. 19) was definitely good preparation for today's operation," said Master Sgt. Jaime Tate, 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron Operations Flight chief from Kadena Air Base, Japan. "(The first day) was more of a, 'show us what you can do, and we'll show you what we can do.' (The second day), we did the mission together."

The combined team treated various simulated ailments and injuries specified by casualty care tags affixed to each patient. The AE team trained in the aircraft by taking care of multiple patients simultaneously and responded to medical scenarios in flight that ranged from headaches to cardiac arrest.

After the hands-on medical scenarios, leadership provided additional instruction and shared deployment lessons learned from the field with the younger members of the crew.

"We set aside time for teaching and walking though potential contingency environment clinical scenarios and challenges that these AE crews might face in this part of the world," Friedrichs said. "One of the biggest goals of the exercise was to have a shared training experience and opportunity to learn from each other."

RAAF Flt. Sgt. Wayne Sturgess, Health Operational Conversion Unit medical technician and AE instructor from RAAF Base Amberley, said that the teams integrated well and that training together enabled the crews to reconcile differences in procedures.

"There may be some small differences in equipment and terminology, but about 95 percent of processes are the same," Sturgess said. "We've also been training together for about four days now, so we were able to sit down and worked out exactly what we (were) doing."

With the success of the first-ever integrated AE exercise with the RAAF and the U.S. Air Force, participants and leadership from both nations, as well as the JASDF, expressed their pleasure in working with each other and how much the training has helped combined interoperability in future operations.

"I hope we have more exercises like this," Friedrichs said. "I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to our Australian and Japanese counterparts for making this happen. This is the first time we've ever done this, and it was extremely successful."

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