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Guard Aeromedical Teams Strengthen Skills During Vigilant Guard

Camp Ripley Training Center -- During natural disasters or other state emergencies, saving time saves lives. If civilian capabilities are overwhelmed, National Guard and other military resources can be called upon to move critical patients from remote scenes to distant medical facilities quickly. The capabilities of the Minnesota National Guard's 109th Aeromedical Squadron were a natural fit for the scale of the exercise's simulated natural disaster.

The 2015 Minnesota state-wide exercise, Vigilant Guard, is testing the state's capabilities and ability to work together with military and civilian organizations.

"Our role in the exercise is to stabilize and transport patients from the field to higher echelons of care.  We strive to provide the best care in the air.  Our highly trained flight medics care for sick and wounded patients, maintain their health and well-being aboard the plane, getting them to the definitive care they need," said 109th AES Director of Operations Air Force Maj. Jeramy Browning.  "Being able to participate in this exercise helps us refresh protocol and procedures of working with civil authorities, sister services as well as state and local entities."

During the exercise, the aircrew and medical team of the 109th are transporting simulated patients from the 133rd Airlift Wing in St. Paul to Camp Ripley.  On arrival, the team works with other National Guard medical personnel to transport additional mock patients from UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters to the unit's C-130H Hercules aircraft to simulate the continuation of care during a state emergency.

"This exercise gives us a great opportunity to practice improving our interoperability with the Army Guard, civilian healthcare providers and emergency response personnel," said Aeromedical Evacuation Technician Staff Sgt Britt Monio.  "In the event of a future, real world scenario like this, we know that we will be well prepared and the incident command system should run effectively, helping patients get the medical care they need in the fastest and safest way possible."

Litter carries across the flight line, checking and maintaining vital signs and maintaining the overall care of patients in flight are just a few of things the team is training on today.  The team from the 109th will spend nearly the entire day practicing in flight processes and procedures on real people on what could happen if the governor requires their help during a state emergency.

"Every single person in our squadron loves what they do," said Browning. "I'm so proud of my unit and the great work they do - whether it's on base during a drill weekend or they are flying around the state or world helping people with their outstanding level of care."

Vigilant Guard is a United States Northern Command and Nation Guard Bureau sponsored exercise designed to improve emergency coordination, response and recovery management with federal, regional, local, civilian and military partners.