HomeNewsArticle Display

COVID-19 can't slow these medics down

Two medics strap a mannequin to a litter

Reserve Citizen Airmen assigned to the 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron secure a simulated victim of an improvised explosive device blast to a litter for transport to definitive care during training July 14, 2020 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The goal of the two-day, hands-on training was to build “reactiveness”, so medics and nurses are able to work through life-threatening scenarios faster because they’ve already seen them in simulation. (courtesy photo)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --

“I need a tourniquet.”

Four words that grab the attention of any Airman.

For medics and nurses of the 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, it means their timeline to get the patient to a treatment facility just got a whole lot tighter. In this situation, taking time to think through a situation rather than relying on “muscle memory” can mean the difference between a re-united family or a military funeral.

For instructor Master Sgt. Kyle Bosshart, and a handful of other 446th ASTS veterans, the memory of the mass casualty incident they experienced during their 2016 deployment drives their passion for teaching the next generation of medics and nurses. That passion has pushed them to pass on their experience in spite of the difficulty training under COVID-19 restrictions.

The goal of the two-day, hands-on training was to build “reactiveness”. Medics and nurses are able to work through life-threatening scenarios faster because they’ve already seen them in simulation. Rather than wasting critical moments problem-solving, they respond with practiced and proven skills.

“What we’re trying to do is undo the scars of previous bad training,” said Bosshart. “People are used to running through a checklist and simulating everything. Here, the ‘patients’ are as they present and [medics and nurses] have to really perform the life-saving interventions. When they get the tourniquet on correctly, for instance, the manikin stops bleeding. If they don’t, it continues to bleed just like real life.”

This training style comes from the mindset of “train like we fight.”

“It’s great. Definitely getting hands on and familiarizing yourself is good,” said Senior Airman Dominique Spring-Woodly, an en-route patient stating squadron technican assigned to the 446th ASTS. “Going through the scenarios and working in teams is excellent.”

Scenarios are built off real experiences and nothing is built into the scenario that wouldn’t or couldn’t really happen in a deployed location. To achieve this, the ASTS relies heavily on a core group of officers and enlisted with significant cumulative experience in medicine, deployment operations and simulation training. This group uses open avenues of communication to achieve a unified vision of improved and realistic training.

Staff Sgt. Heidi Hill, an en-route patient stating squadron technican assigned to the 446th ASTS, spoke on the value of the training.

“We had members who are experts in certain fields …teaching us the right way and the proper way,” Hill said. “Afterwards, everybody felt more excited about their job and excited about the intricacies of the medicine we practice.”

With this training, the 446th ASTS is surely looking to live up to its motto: Global Care…Anytime, Anywhere. One thing is sure, our brother and sister service members will be in caring and capable hands should the need arise.

The 446th ASTS is part of the 446th Airlift Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command tenant unit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma in Pierce and Yakima Counties, Washington associated with the 62nd Airlift Wing, Air Mobility Command. The 446th AW is comprised of 3 groups, 14 squadrons and 1 flight. Our mission is to provide ready Airmen to support global operations and our vision is Airmen first, a cohesive and ready team.