On a sunny Saturday morning, military men and women from the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserves, and Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron practiced a new training exercise known as the Multiple Aircraft Training Opportunity Program at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City.
According to Jennifer Lavin, Air National Guard public affairs officer, each member was there to prepare for natural disasters and future deployment.
On a stretch of clear landing ground, planes from Oklahoma, Mississippi, Tennessee, Maryland, Colorado and California awaited service personnel ready to learn the ins and outs of each aircraft.
“At any moment they might need to use any one of these planes. With this program they can become familiar with all of them,” Lavin said.
Col. Devin R. Wooden said that the familiarity that the military nurses, troops and medical technicians get in practice will help them save lives when deployed.
Wooden said that soldiers often are trained using only one type of plane but in practice need to be familiar with any kind of aircraft, ranging from a large C17 to any smaller plane that might be available to transport or treat wounded soldiers.
“Any one of these planes might pull up at a critical time,” Wooden said. “We want our med folks to be concentrating on the patients and not on where they are or wondering where they need to plug something in.”
Wooden said the idea to implement the new training program emerged from guardsmen at the Air National Guard in Oklahoma.
“I'm very proud of our guardsmen. To think about doing something like this requires good vision and a lot of initiative,” he said.
Lt. Col. Keith Reed who is the commander of the 137 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron for the Oklahoma Air National Guard, said the significance of integrating troops before deployment cannot be stressed enough.
“The big thing to understand about what we're doing is that it's good to be integrated. Typically we integrate in deployment after members are trained in specific units with different aircrafts for each unit,” Reed said.
“There was no urgent need to do this now but we are always looking to strengthen our capabilities. Our goal here is to strengthen our capabilities of providing better service to those who are wounded,” he said.
Wooden said that the training program not only familiarizes troops with different aircraft, but serves as a great networking opportunity as well since troops from across the nation participated in the training program on Saturday.
“I'm 80-percent sure these people will see each other in the next year. When these folks deploy, they'll deploy as a unit.”