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Pacific edition, Thursday, August 30, 2007

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — Dust swirled at Tiger Training Area, about six miles north of Camp Red Cloud, as a Chinook helicopter descended to the landing zone late Tuesday morning.

Simulated casualties, South Korean and American, and their attendants scrambled to get out of the wake then cautiously made their way to the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment helicopter.

First aboard were the walking wounded, followed by those who needed to be carried in litters. A few hundred feet away, a Black Hawk also loaded casualties.

The wounded were transferred to 51st Medical Group at Osan Air Base.

Capt. Steve Duryea, air mission commander for the Ulchi Focus Lens mass casualty exercise, said the scenario would be repeated several times.

By day’s end, between 300 to 400 patients would be transported by helicopter, plane and train. The aim is to train to use “nonstandard vehicles” to evacuate casualties in case air ambulances alone can’t keep up with demand.

Duryea said South Korean soldiers joined the exercise to make it “more realistic.”

The combined training also enabled medical personnel to use their new digital recording systems that track injuries and casualty locations electronically.

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