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Westover aeromedical, aerial port Airmen practice like they play

Members of the 439th Aerospace Staging Squadron practice liter carries at Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts on July 24, 2020. The 39th ASTS, 439th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and 42nd Aerial Port Squadron conducted a multi-day exercise where they ran through deployment scenarios and medical care. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shane Phipps)

Members of the 439th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, 439th Aeromedical Staging Squadron and 42nd Aerial Port Squadron load a patient onto a C-17 Globemaster III, July 24, 2020 on Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts. The exercise covered liter carries, medical tent set-up, and treating and transferring patients to more permanent medical facilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shane Phipps)

Members of the 439th Aeromedical Staging Squadron transfer a patient from a bus to a C-17 Globemaster III on Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts on July 24, 2020. Aeromedical personnel from the 439th ASTS and the 439th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron practiced treating and transferring patients to more permanent facilities during the July exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shane Phipps)

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. --

Members of the 439th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, 439th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and the 42nd Aerial Port Squadron conducted ground and flight medical training July 23 to 25.

“We’re mocking up what would be in theater, which is typically somewhere down range, receiving folks on what could be a dirt strip and getting them out to fixed hospital settings,” said Capt. Robert Walsh, 439th AES medical service corps officer.

The Airmen practiced setting up medical tents, liter carrying, and treating and transporting patients onto aircraft for continued care.

“We're trying to cover two days of flying exercises, complete two full missions with plenty of additional training and exercise injects in-between to help us fine tune our skills and get all of our young Airmen the training that they need to be able to fill that mission and deploy,” said Walsh.

One of those Airmen was Senior Airman Gerald Chanco, a 439th ASTS aerospace medical technician assigned the bulldog position.

“You are expected to take control when people are asking ‘what do we do’,” Chanco said, describing the bulldog position. “You have to be the medium where all the information flows through and you have to call the shots and make the best calls for your patients based off the information they give you.”

The exercise was Chanco’s first.

“For me it’s scary, but it’s also rewarding,” he said. “Understand with mistakes, you gain experience, gain better judgment and I think that’s very important to do especially with these exercises. You get put on stage and you get to do what you’re meant to do as a unit.”

The exercise gave players a chance to work with other units, much like they would in deployed and real-world scenarios.

“It's incredibly important to practice like you play,” said Walsh. “When you get in theater, you are working with Army, Navy, Marine Corps and other Air Force units. The bottom line is, you don't know anything about them or where they're coming from, but you have to understand the capabilities that they provide and you don't get that unless you're practicing.”

Chanco agreed.

“The knowledge is good and you’re going to be a valuable resource,” said Chanco. “But if you don’t have the actual practicality behind it, the muscle memory, it’s not going to help you out very long.”