CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. --
Two members of Air Forces Northern’s Surgeon General’s office were watching months of their planning efforts unfold here during an Expeditionary Medical Support confirmation field exercise, April 16-21, as they evaluated the 81st Medical Group’s response to simulated tornado aftermath.
Capt. Lee Laughridge, AFNORTH Medical Operations and Training chief, and Jeff Brandenburg, AFNORTH medical plans and logistics chief, worked throughout the year with agencies across the Air Force Medical Services enterprise to plan the scenario that exercises the tactics, techniques and procedures of EMEDS during a contingency.
“We wanted to do an exercise to evaluate the status of current capabilities of the medical portion of AFNORTH’s defense support to civil authority’s mission,” Brandenburg said. “We’re looking at agency interoperability, logistics, communications and supply chain issues to identify both strengths and areas that may need attention.”
A team of 12 observers from different specialties in the medical community assisted Laughridge and Brandenburg with the contingency operations evaluation.
Laughridge and Brandenburg briefed Lt. Col. Jack Vilardi, 81st MDG operations officer, about the exercise scenario as exercise participants from the 81st MDG arrived at the Camp Atterbury site. The scenario included several EF5 tornadoes ripping a path of destruction in and around Indianapolis, producing grapefruit-sized hail, sleet, snow and heavy rain. Medical expertise was necessary to assist since local medical facilities were damaged or destroyed and the extent of injuries and fatalities were undetermined but thought to be possibly catastrophic.
More than 90 members from the 81st MDG went to work, building a full-up medical support facility from pre-positioned pallets of supplies on site. Local “patients” needing immediate medical attention began showing up on site just as they started. Medics responded and worked around medical group personnel continuing to build the facility. Patients were quickly evaluated and moved to an area where they could be made as comfortable as possible.
“We wanted to inject the sense of urgency into the environment,” Brandenburg said. “In a real-world contingency situation, the luxury of uninterrupted time to put together a medical facility simply doesn’t exist.”