Medic Rodeo 2022: Cutting edge medical training Air Force wide

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Vernon R. Walter III
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

The serene silence of Melrose Air Force Range’s Training Area 3B, affectionately known as Gotham City, is shattered with automatic gunfire, booming explosions and cacophony of shouting and screams of pain. Medics take cover from threats, while Security Forces Airmen maneuver into defensive firing positions. Smoke grenades envelop the Airmen to obscure movement while they respond to injury reports, and city residents scream into their ears demanding answers. Medics strive to identify casualties and pull them to safety all while the world around them implodes with chaos.

This team is one of 16 participating in Medic Rodeo, a competition that prepares its participants for future warfare where medics have to operate in degraded and geographically isolated environments, and with the possibility of multiple casualties closer to the front lines of battle.

This year’s Medic Rodeo, the 13th iteration, hosted teams of medical professionals from Air Force bases around the world, August 15-18, at Cannon Air Force Base and Melrose Air Force Range.

This is the first Medic Rodeo since 2019, following a cancellation in 2020 and 2021 due to the global pandemic. For the first time, the teams consisted of two emergency medical technicians, one medical officer, and one enlisted non-medic. This was done to incorporate MEDIC-X, a strategic initiative by the Air Force Surgeon General. This year’s Medic Rodeo demonstrated the importance and advantage of having every medic ready and available to help save lives, to conduct the mission faster, and out-pace adversaries in the fight.

“The goal of Medic Rodeo is to hone the skills that we need to have in a deployed environment,” said Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Thomas W. Harrell, Air Force Medical Readiness Agency commander. “And with this Medic Rodeo, we have also engaged MEDIC-X. That is a multi-capable airman concept within the Air Force Medical Service. The goal is that when we are engaged in the next fight, every single medical airman needs to be engaged in the healthcare that we deliver to be able to return Airmen and Guardians to the fight.”

MEDIC-X is being utilized to develop a standardized medical force with a broad set of skills common to all medical specialties, creating a ready medical force through realistic training. This ensures the development of multi-capable medics proficient in casualty care across the spectrum.

“I think the Medic Rodeo helps mold medics for future conflict,” said Senior Master Sgt. Brit Adams, Joint Trauma System Air Force service liaison officer, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. “Medics from around the Air Force Medical Service get to come together and work in environments that they don't typically get to work in. The opportunity to work on a range, focusing on tactical combat casualty care at point of injury and transitioning through the different phases of care is somewhat challenging to do at most Air Force military treatment facilities.”

Adams goes on to explain the importance of having people from different career fields and different locations come together is important to meet the new MEDIC-X initiative.

“MEDIC-X gives them an opportunity to step out of the MTF and get more into a tactical combat casualty care mentality by running through different scenarios.”

MEDIC-X focuses on enhancing and improving casualty outcomes in cyber-degraded and contested areas with limited resources, especially when medical evacuation may be delayed or compromised. Both Cannon and MAFR provide unique capabilities for realistic training locations to reinforce and challenge medics in a simulated deployed environment.

“I think there’s two reasons for having the rodeo at Cannon,” Adams said. “First is the continuity between all the supporting entities and agencies over the last 13 years. Having the expertise and the knowledge from the continuity definitely helps support the rodeo. I think the other reason is that Melrose Range provides a realistic training location. It enables the students to utilize their skills in environments that they aren’t typically used to.”

After two days of non-stop challenges, ranging from treating gunshot wounds under fire to near-fatal car crashes, the team from Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, were crowned the 2022 Medic Rodeo winners.

“What we bring is medical capability anywhere in the world under attack,” Harrell said. “And all of our medics need to be able to do that, be confident in doing that, so that our Airmen and Guardian, Army, Sailor and Marine friends can trust us, that if we respond, we're going to do everything I can to save their life and bring them back home. That is intensely personal. It is sacred. And it's what we're charged to do.”