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Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gordon Beecroft
An overview shot of Expeditionary Medical Support (EMEDS) tents during a certification review field exercise at Willow Grove Air Reserve Station Aug. 6.
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EMEDS: It's all about saving lives

Posted 11/12/2009   Updated 11/12/2009 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt Julie Parker
111th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/12/2009 - WILLOW GROVE AIR RESERVE STATION, Pa. -- Fifty-five Air National Guardsmen from the 111th Medical Group joined together with 20 additional ANG colleagues from Pittsburgh and New York to complete their five-year Expeditionary Medical Support (EMEDS) certification review during a field exercise at Willow Grove Air Reserve Station Aug. 3-7.  The purpose of the exercise is to train the medical personnel with the actual equipment they will use in their mission of homeland defense or alongside their active duty counterparts in time of war.

The EMEDS team, which included physicians, nurses, and a variety of medical technicians, had hands-on training and lectures, lots of planning before several exercise scenarios, and then a 12-hour mass casualty exercise, in which they were evaluated by a cadre team from Alpena, Mich.

According to Lt. Col. Preston Smith, the 111th MDG administrative officer, EMEDS teams typically travel to the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center in northern Michigan for a week-long certification exercise, once every five years. "We have all the equipment we need so we requested the cadre to come down to our unit," explained Colonel Smith.

An important element of the training exercise is the opportunity for the EMEDS team to work closely with members of other units, the colonel said.

Deputy chief nurse for the 111th Medical Group, Lt. Col. Angel Burris agreed with that statement, "Not only was this an excellent opportunity for us to see our own capabilities, but the best part was working with members from Pittsburgh and New York."

She said that exercises like this are imperative because in a real-world scenario, the younger troops may be working alongside members of units they have never met before, and they must understand the complexities of treating war casualties and how difficult it can become if members of the medical team don't work together.

"I was so impressed with the professionalism and how well everyone melded together into one cohesive group. You couldn't tell one unit from another," said Colonel Burris.

Staff Sgt. Alica Singh, a medical technician with the 111th MDG, explained that her experience with the EMEDS exercise was a positive one.  "As a traditional Guardsman, you don't always get a chance to experience the clinical aspect of the job. This was very realistic and incredibly hands-on," she said.

Being prepared by providing as realistic of a scenario and bringing members of different units into one team are exactly the goals of an exercise like this, said Colonel Smith.

"The 111th Fighter Wing and the Air National Guard brings trained personnel together who are able to support a community that has suffered a disaster. Our country and our state put faith in our ability to be ready," he said. "It's about saving lives ... that's our job."

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