U.S. Air Force participates in global patient movement exercise

Inside the Gates
Inside the Gates: U.S. Air Force participates in global patient movement exercise
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 5:33 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The U.S. Air Force and members of the Alaska National Guard on Monday participated in a global patient movement exercise known as Ultimate Caduceus ‘23.

As part of the Pacific Air Forces, the Alaska U.S. Air Force said they are tasked with responding to and assisting with major disasters in the Pacific Theater.

“Here at (Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson) we have patients that can be transferred here for various reasons and our job is to help facilitate the movement of those patients from one area to the next,” Capt. Kenneth Dunham with the U.S. Air Force said. “If there is a natural disaster or something, anything that has a large amount of patients, they would be transported here to us and then we would hold on to them and make sure that they are ready for their next stage of flight down to the Lower 48 where they would get their definitive care,”

U.S. Air Force members in Alaska need to be able to assess the needs of their patients and then quickly transport them. In Monday’s simulation, Air Force members were in charge of unloading and treating around 20 patients.

“The human participants, the players, they’ll give them scenarios and that allows us to interact with the patients as if they have an actual illness or a condition that they need to treat rather than just reading off a piece of paper and treating a mannequin,” Dunham said.

It was a practice run to see how fast airmen could transport wounded Department of Defense members from the base to a medical facility.

Monday’s scenario included unloading patients from a C-17 Globemaster III into an HH-60M Black Hawk, a Medevac Helicopter and on-ground transportation methods.

From there, participants were in charge of transporting patients to Providence Alaska Medical Center, a JBER hospital and a triage setup on base, where Air Force participants stabilized and provided pain management to the patients.

“It frees up the other, I guess, medical providers at the hospital from having to do that. So, it doesn’t put an extra load on them,” Dunham said.

The goal was to strengthen their patient movement capabilities and skills.

“It’s important to have the hands-on training because there is always something that can go wrong,” Dunham said. “So we need to have that good muscle memory and that good flexibility.”

Editor’s note: This article has been changed to correct the name of the military exercise, which is known as Ultimate Caduceus ‘23.