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Reserve Medics Attend Summer School During Annual Training

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

AMHERST, Mass., June 27, 1997 – It presented quite a contrast -- military medics in battle dress utilities pulling "accident victims" from humvees and vans on the shady green lawn in front of colonial Edward Whitman Chapin Hall.

Certainly, 156-year-old Amherst College had never seen the likes of it, but officials here were more than ready to cooperate and make their military guests feel welcome. As a result, a new and potentially far-reaching phase of summer training commenced in June for reserve medics on their annual active duty tours.

"We're fulfilling skills and readiness training requirements at Amherst College, and practical field application at Westover [Air Reserve Base, Mass.]," explained Col. Jim Kottkamp. "In two weeks, more than 500 people will receive all the training they need, including national certification, to perform their wartime medical skills at a remarkable cost of just $47 a day for room and board."

As exercise director for Patriot Medstar, a large-scale, joint-service aeromedical evacuation exercise involving more than 3,000 active duty and reserve medics, Kottkamp was particularly proud of the programs at Amherst. "We've never done anything like this before, and a lot of senior military medical leaders are very interested in how successful the venture is."

The Amherst program fits into the long-range goals for military medical training, according to program director, Capt. Doug Miller. "The skills we are teaching are applicable to all the services," said Miller, an Air Force Reserve flight nurse from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. "The concept could easily be exported to other campuses around the country and be used by other career fields as well."

Here, doctors, nurses and medical technicians went to summer school to learn how to administer emergency trauma support, insert catheters, suture wounds and administer intravenous fluids and drugs. The training they received in just five days would have required two years to complete on their normal reserve training schedule, Miller said.

About 125 instructors, mostly from the Air Force Reserve but also representing the active duty Air Force, Air National Guard, Naval Reserve and Army Reserve, volunteered to teach the courses. All courses included written and practical examinations and two of the courses -- trauma nurse care and prehospital trauma life support -- led to national certification.

"These all are courses military medics need to be current in their career fields," Miller said. "They also reflect the same training their civilian counterparts receive."

While nurses worked on realistic manikins inside academic halls, medical technicians scrambled to perform rapid extraction, patient assessment, spinal immobilization and airway checks at staged accident scenes on the campus green.

"Reservists are hungry for this training," said Air Force Technical Sgt. Steve Brumfield of the Joint Medical Readiness Training Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. "They've been very attentive students."

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDuring a practical exercise, a prehospital trauma life support course instructor tells his reservist students what he wants them to do during a summer academics program at Amherst College, Mass. Two five-day sessions were conducted on the picturesque New England campus for more than 500 military medics participating in Patriot Medstar, a joint-service exercise testing the aeromedical evacuation system. Douglas J. Gillert  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageUsing a pig foot obtained from a butcher, Air Force Reserve Dr. (Maj.) Joel Bogner, 439th Medical Squadron, Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass., demonstrates suturing techniques for reserve nurses attending courses at Amherst College. The courses were conducted as one week of the reservists' two-week annual tour. They spent the other week practicing their wartime skills in the field portion of Patriot Medstar, the largest aeromedical evacuation exercise ever conducted. Douglas J. Gillert  
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