HERCULES GLADE WILDERNESS, Mo. –
Public safety depends on multiple organizations collaborating, and training becomes essential in finding a solution to a problem. The Missouri National Guard recently teamed up with our local state partners to focus on training in times of emergency.
CoxHealth Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Medical Director and Southwest EMS Region Medical Director, Matthew Brandt, has been instrumental in organizing safety and training missions for the state of Missouri for many years. Brandt, a former Special Forces Medic, continues to serve his community. Most recently, he planned a Joint Training Exercise at Hercules Glade Wilderness, Bradleyville, Mo., on October 06, 2022. The training was the first of its kind involving the Missouri National Guard (MONG), CoxHealth, Ozark Technical College (OTC), and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The event facilitated multiple types of first responders to practice life-saving medical evacuation scenarios.
“The more we work together, the better we work together,” emphasized Brandt.
The training event occurred during the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s, Troops A, and D, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) combined annual training with medical personnel. OTC provided actors to serve as casualties in the simulation center. The MONG’s Det. 2, Co. G, 3/238th Aviation MEDEVAC provided air and medical evacuation support for one of the annual training events.
The collaboration between Missouri’s law enforcement and National Guard aviators presented new opportunities and resources that could help establish a plan for future state emergency missions and public safety for the state.
“This is the initial relationship, where we begin discussing and identifying problems and performance gaps,” said Brandt. “At this point, we’ve got an outline of how the plan would work when developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Imagine this kind of training gets all the ideas together for state emergency missions or natural events, everybody collaborating and coming together.”
Missouri National Guard, Deputy to the State Aviation Officer, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Matthew Sandbothe also understands the importance of agencies working together.
“Coordinating with interagency partners strengthens the Missouri National Guard’s response efforts in supporting civil authorities and the State of Missouri,” said Sandbothe. “Joint exercises like this one enables us to expand upon our proficiency for our wartime mission, and our civilian mission to support the Governor. This training is essential for us to build relationships prior to being called to an emergency or crisis. When a real emergency occurs, the relationships and communication are already built and we’re more efficient in execution.”
The primary focus of this mission was to evaluate performance gaps related to methods to establish command and control, determine limits between the participants' relationships, and develop air-to-ground communications between all entities.
“One of the objectives is to establish who is ground command, incident command, and air incident command and how they can interact,” said Brandt. “Who controls the problem you’re solving, who has control over what, and establishes the limits of each entity. Who would be that division in command and control? Just establishing a relationship, as we are trying to figure this out, we've never done this before.”
Communications played a significant factor in the training; each department brainstormed how they could request this type of asset via air-ground communications. Many questions came to mind when operating such a complex exercise between given organizations.
The training exercise sparked many new ideas amongst the departments on ways to improve when planning future missions. Along with the trained personnel, everyone could agree that the UH-60 Blackhawks are an essential asset to the MEDEVAC mission.
The training consisted of different rounds of crewmembers rappelling out of the aircraft to assess the situation and the patient in collaboration with the SWAT teams. After conducting the necessary casualty care through the nine-line MEDEVAC process, the simulated patient was placed in a litter and hoisted into the aircraft. The aircraft would then take off as if they were going to a medical center and repeat the process. During this exercise, SWAT members were staged throughout the vicinity of the field, pulling security.
Brandt explains, “This [hoist capability] would be tremendously useful in so many different wilderness recovery and rescue opportunities throughout the state, especially in these wilderness or remote areas where we find ourselves operating. When I say ourselves, I’m referring to CoxHealth, the patrol, and all the other fire departments and rescue services throughout the state. That unit specifically has a resource that no one else has and that no one has explored. This training was a tremendous opportunity to figure out how that works.”
The exercise benefited everyone. It exposed areas for improvement and the need for departments to go outside of their ordinary routines while bringing something new to the table.
“This adds a level of complexity that we would have never otherwise had,” said Brandt. “It requires them to operate outside their normal operational envelope and solve problems they wouldn’t otherwise have to deal with… [forcing] everyone to see how their normal SOP and normal courses of action can be applied to unusual situations.”
This collaborative team effort won’t be the last. When Missouri’s resources come together, innovation is a key focus.
According to Chief Warrant Officer 4 Sandbothe, “This exercise really sets the stage for forthcoming guidance and future exercises. Bringing civilian organizations together with local and state agencies and the Missouri National Guard significantly strengthens our readiness and preparedness.” Sandbothe emphasized, “We want to continue building these interagency relationships. One of the most important missions the Missouri National Guard has is utilizing its resources to support the Governor and protect Missourians.”