Aeromedical Airmen train in Africa
By Tech. Sgt. Todd Wivell , 17th Air Force Public Affairs
/ Published April 27, 2011
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of the Congo -- With outside temperatures reaching above 95 degrees and temperatures inside the classroom feeling much warmer than that, the total force instructors of the U.S. Air Force active duty, National Guard and Reserve have started their course instruction portion of MEDLITE 11 to the more than 70 Congolese military personnel at the Centre Superior Militaire Academy here.
Ten Airmen from the 109th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron from the Minnesota Air National Guard's 133rd Airlift Wing in St. Paul are participating.
"Since we don't have assigned forces we have to rely on the National Guard and Reserves to support these military missions, especially these exercises," said Maj. Vincent Falls, Bioenvironmental Engineer, 17th Air Force Office of the Surgeon General. "It's that partnership that makes this exercise so successful."
Major Falls explained that the logistics of these exercises, across different continents, are typically a hard working process right from the start.
"It is clearly a total force effort, with members from the National Guard agencies representing New York, Illinois, Wyoming, North Dakota, Minnesota and Maryland here," said Major Falls. "I am very impressed with how receptive everyone was, and is to this working environment and how they have overcome any and all obstacles to make this event happen."
Master Sgt. Rob Buresh, an Aeromedical Medical technician and instructor with the Minnesota Air National Guard's 109th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron is one of those members instructing here at the Militaire Academy.
"I instructed on medical evacuation 101, the history of aero evacuation, how it developed and how it is has progressed over time," said Sergeant Buresh. "Basically I am instructing these Congolese nurses and medical technicians on something they have never heard before and to take it back to this beginning level of aeromedical evacuation was really fascinating for me.
"These students were 100 percent engaged, they were all leaning forward, taking notes and asking hundreds of questions. Their hunger for knowledge was truly amazing, I have not been in a classroom environment like this for a long time and I truly felt like everything I said will have an immediate impact on them."
While all the instructors have agreed that the language barriers, the extreme hot weather, the driving conditions and time to and from the academy and the loss of electricity from time-to-time, all have said they would not trade this experience for any other mission.
"I have gained so much already," said Maj. Michelle Mulberry, an Aeromedical Evacuation Flight nurse and instructor with the Wyoming ANG's 187th AES. "I feel like any time you teach you learn, and from the all the questions they asked, I learned so much about them and what their current level of expertise is."
"This is my first experience with instructing with a language barrier, it is definitely harder than I thought it would be. You have to remember to only say a little at a time so that the translator can ensure he is passing on the right information to the Congolese members.
"There are only a few female military members in this class and I hope by me just being here, sharing them my experiences and giving them my instruction that I can empower them to one day see they can also do what I am currently doing."
With another three days of classroom instruction to go, the total force instructors here are working diligently to ensure the goal of increasing the Democratic Republic of the Congo's humanitarian assistance capability to rapidly treat the acutely injured and assist with decreasing their mortality rates will be met.
MEDLITE 11 is an exercise that aims to improve the readiness of both countries' medical personnel and will consist of classroom instruction, an aeromedical-evacuation training scenario and will conclude with a mass-casualty exercise May 4.