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During an exercise Thursday, teams of medical personnel from Kadena Air Base loaded "patients" on stretchers and carried them onto a C-130 cargo aircraft at Kadena Air Base for transport.
During an exercise Thursday, teams of medical personnel from Kadena Air Base loaded "patients" on stretchers and carried them onto a C-130 cargo aircraft at Kadena Air Base for transport. (Mark Rankin / S&S)
During an exercise Thursday, teams of medical personnel from Kadena Air Base loaded "patients" on stretchers and carried them onto a C-130 cargo aircraft at Kadena Air Base for transport.
During an exercise Thursday, teams of medical personnel from Kadena Air Base loaded "patients" on stretchers and carried them onto a C-130 cargo aircraft at Kadena Air Base for transport. (Mark Rankin / S&S)
Staff Sgt. Tremayne Neals fields questions from the Japanese media on a simulated emergency evacuation exercise at Kadena Air Base.
Staff Sgt. Tremayne Neals fields questions from the Japanese media on a simulated emergency evacuation exercise at Kadena Air Base. (Mark Rankin / S&S)
Capt. Cindy McCullough checks an oxygen hose, lines and tank onboard the C-130 aircraft during a simulated emergency triage and evacuation execise at Kadena Thursday.
Capt. Cindy McCullough checks an oxygen hose, lines and tank onboard the C-130 aircraft during a simulated emergency triage and evacuation execise at Kadena Thursday. (Mark Rankin / S&S)

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — It’s 6:45 a.m. The telephone rings; it’s the command duty office. “An office building in Korea has been bombed and people have sustained multiple injuries.”

The caller shouts, “No count of casualties but the injured will have to be stabilized and transported!”

Although this call was part of an exercise, servicemembers know that for colleagues elsewhere, it could be an almost daily reality — which added a certain urgency as personnel from Kadena’s 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron practiced giving proper emergency medical care to those with an array of simulated injuries.

As more than 20 Japanese officials and local media watched Thursday morning on Kadena’s flight line, the unit also demonstrated its ability to handle emergency triage and evacuation.

As the crew of a waiting C-130 transport cargo aircraft began scanning checklists and preparing hoses, medical pumps and oxygen machines, Staff Sgt. Tremayne Neals, an 18th AES medical technician, said, “People depend on us. Before the plane flies, all medical equipment must be properly checked.

“This is an excellent exercise to show how we operate.”

Neals said the crew uses checklists to determine equipment and medical supplies needed for specialized flights on a case-by-case basis.

“Sometimes, our jobs can get physically demanding,” he said. “We can load 600 to 800 pounds of equipment to take with us ... you have to be ready to make quick decisions and adjustments.”

The squadron bases its training exercises on real-life situations “because it seems to keep our medical skills sharp,” Neals said.

Maj. Joyce Hale, a flight nurse with the 18th AES, explained that medics must consistently sharpen their skills, which allow for the quick mobilizations that can save lives.

The unit’s job is to care for patients while they’re being transported for medical services, Hale said.

“This training allows everyone to practice a variety of areas of expertise and move as one unit,” she said.

The flight nurse said one of the exercise’s goals was to set up triage — deciding who gets what medical attention and who gets it first — then begin treating patients and moving them to safety. “I get satisfaction in knowing we’re helping an injured person get to a safe environment,” Neals said. “The little smile on their face usually says we’ve accomplished our mission.”

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