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SOF medical element strengthen capabilities in exercises

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Staff Sgt. Andrew Thompson, 27th Special Operations Support Squadron SOF medical element, participates in a joint exercise with 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron firefighters at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Jan. 18, 2018. Some real-world responsibilities for SOFME include ensuring the health and wellbeing of all operational members, conducting casualty evacuations and providing medical expertise and advice to commanders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

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Firefighters from the 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron control a fire during a training exercise at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Jan. 18, 2019. Special Operations Forces Medical Element and 27th SOCES firefighters participated in a joint training effort to enhance both of their mission capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

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Cannon's Special Operations Forces Medical Element works in conjuction with Clovis Police Department's SWAT team for an active shooter exercise at the fairgrounds in Clovis, N.M., Jan. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Luke Kitterman)

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Cannon's Special Operations Forces Medical Element works in conjuction with Clovis Police Department's SWAT team for an active shooter exercise at the fairgrounds in Clovis, N.M., Jan. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Luke Kitterman)

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Security Forces Airmen from the 27th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron prepare to move a wounded soldier to a safe location for medical attention during a mass casualty exercise at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Jan. 14, 2019. The 27th SOSFS participated in a mass casualty exercise with medical personnel to train on clearing hostile locations and escorting wounded soldiers to safety. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gage Daniel)

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A 27th Special Operations Support Squadron Airman gives simulated emergency medical care during a mass casualty exercise at Cannon Air Force Base N.M., Jan. 14, 2019. After security forces located injured personnel, they escorted them to vehicles to be treated on by special operations medical experts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

Special Operations Forces Medical Element members participated in exercises last week, and are expected to complete a few more this week at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.

 

The events tested SOFME capabilities in providing medical aid to simulated casualties under stressful conditions.

 

“No one ever wants to see another military member injured but unfortunately the best training comes from firsthand experience in the field,” said Tech. Sgt. Seth Haas, 27th Special Operations Support Squadron NCO-in-charge of critical operations. “We are creating the most realistic situations possible to better prepare our teams for deployments.”

 

Over the course of two weeks, according to Haas, SOFME teams and units around the base cooperated in completing rigorous scenarios simulating an austere medical site downrange, where they worked out of tents and forward deployed to pick up casualties. Treatment was given whilst on aircraft, on-the-ground and in vehicles to help simulate holding and caring for patients for an extended period of time.

 

“This model will help our medics prepare for places where medical support is not as robust,” Haas said.

 

SOFME members are highly-skilled individuals that maintain their edge by conducting continual in-house training and treating patients in the 27th Special Operations Medical Group, according to Haas. They stay ready for sudden deployments in case of natural disasters or Special Operations Command tasks. In between times outside base, they’re here, training Airmen in basic life support and tactical combat casualty care courses prior to deployments.

 

“Our high-ops tempo provides a lot of challenges where we must always remain as flexible and prepared as possible because situations can change at the drop of a hat,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Thompson, SOFME.

 

Thompson explained that in a year, SOFME forces deploy for four months. Per month, they also fit in one to three temporary deployments, exercises, provide medical coverage two days, teach one to two classes on tactical medicine or basic life support and work 50-110 hours at the 27th SOMDG.

 

The exercises were also used to help shed some light on what his career field is about, according to Haas.

 

“The SOFME community is extremely small and a lot of leaders we come in contact with aren’t fully aware of what we bring to the fight,” Haas said. “While this training is something SOFMEs participate in regularly, it might be something a non-operational medic may never experience in their career. As an advocate for grooming the next generation of SOF medics, I will meet with medics that work in the hospital and recommend them to be involved with SOFMEs in any way possible. This exposure will help our younger medics to be aware of other career paths available to them and continue pushing the SOFME career field in the right direction.”

 

Despite the stressful last few weeks, whether it was pushing SOFME into challenging scenarios, ensuring readiness and strengthening core IDMT abilities, Thompson understands the value and purpose of the training.

 

“[I hope to] uncover my weaknesses, get exposure to situations that I’ve never been in and learn as much as I can,” Thompson revealed. “If you are debating on whether to become an independent duty medical technician or not, I would highly suggest that you do, especially if you have the opportunity to become a SOFME. I love my job and I wish I had done this sooner in my career.”