Search and Extraction Medics

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Amy M. Lovgren
  • 133rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

As a CH-47 Chinook from C Company, 2nd Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment, General Support Aviation Battalion, Minnesota Army National Guard, lands in an open field search and extraction medics from the 133rd Medical Group’s Detachment 1, Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear High-Yield Explosives Enhanced Response Force Package (CERF-P) prepare to load simulated patients for a casualty evacuation.

The CERF-P comprises five elements of Airmen and Soldiers from the National Guard. The five elements are the search and extraction element, the decontamination element, the fatalities search and recovery team, and command and control. The medical element, which is the fifth element, is assigned to the Air National Guard. Their mission is to respond to the governor's request for incidents that involved site search of collapsed buildings and structures, conducting rescue tasks to extract trapped casualties, providing mass decontamination, and performing medical triage and initial treatment to stabilize patients for transport to medical facilities by the Incident Commander, and the recovery of CBRN incident fatalities.

“We had the opportunity to step away from the office and work with our Army CERF-P counterparts,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Danita Todd, aerospace medical services technician, 133rd Medical Group, Detachment 1. “Our search and extraction [medics] go downrange with them to extract victims in a mass casualty incident.”

On this particular day, search and extraction medics confronted scenarios where they had to assess, extract, and treat the injured. The hands-on training was created to simulate real-world emergencies, which provides the foundation for the Soldiers and Airmen to save lives and help mitigate human suffering.

“[The] objective was to go out there as a team to assess them, extract them, get them treated, and then load them up on a Chinook for a casualty evacuation,” said Todd. “We had Airmen set up tents to care for the [simulated patients] that we extract, and then we set up hot and cold zone triage teams to assess the victims.”

Reflecting on this training experience, Todd had a few opportunities that helped her step outside her comfort zone.

"It's natural to be nervous," recalls Todd. "We all get nervous about doing new things. I had the opportunity to load and unload patients onto the Chinook multiple times today. I hadn't done it before, but it was a cool experience because it's not something we do daily. It is important to take advantage of every opportunity presented to you."