CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Independent duty medical technicians from the 27th Special Operations Support Squadron recently participated in a series of casualty evacuation exercises between April 26 through May 7, the first of its kind to take place here at Cannon.
The exercises are designed to test the field readiness of Special Operations Forces Medical Elements IDMTs and make sure they are qualified for deployment. Previously, the course and qualifications were only offered at the Tactical Operations Medical Skills Lab, 1st Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field, Florida.
“We are trying to create another option for SOFME’s to get high quality training before they deploy,” said Tech. Sgt. Erik Waldrip, 27 SOSS Operational Support Medicine superintendent. “This is the first time we have been able to conduct the course here locally and it works because we have a great environment out here that translates to operations downrange.”
Providing adequate training and the ability to qualify individuals took a two-year approval process, which included practice iterations in order to judge the effectiveness of the program. This is the first iteration of the CASEVAC course that is fully approved and equal to the course provided at Hurlburt Field.
“This is the third iteration of this course,” Waldrip said. “The first two iterations were more proof of concept runs. We filed after action reports for each, discussed curriculum with the AFSOC Surgeon General and worked hard to prove we can provide high quality training here at Cannon.”
The course consisted of basic classroom learning before field exercises that stressed mental and physical abilities. The 10-day course gives students the opportunity to obtain muscle memory, ensuring field care is quick and effective.
“It is important to get a hands on feel,” said Maj. Zachary Dreaden, 27 SOSS OSM flight commander. “It’s important to realize where you keep all your meds, what needs to be pre-drawn before missions and things such as that. This course is important because it allows us to stress the students so they make mistakes in a training environment, but won’t make those same mistakes in real-world operations downrange.”
The end goal of this program is to get IDMTs fully mission qualified prior to deployments, with the hopes they will be able to teach the next class and continually progress with each course.
“We want to give them the best training possible,” said Dreaden. “The deployed mission changes and the hope is we train these guys in a way that they can train the next group of guys and make them even better.”
Using their experience gained from multiple real-world CASEVAC missions performed together, Dreaden and Waldrip are confident in their training curriculum as well as their students' ability to save lives.
“We want to make sure that when our SOFME’s are going to their first CASEVAC downrange, we can trust that they have been trained well enough to field a patient in that situation,” Waldrip said. “I have personally seen them complete this training and I know that they can perform.”