Major pain: Airmen team up with local hospital for medical training

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Matthew Reisdorf
  • 934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Saving wounded service members in an austere combat environment is an intense experience with no room for mistakes.

To remain resilient and proficient in life-saving skills, the 934th Aeromedical Staging Squadron and the 934th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron Airmen continuously prepare for such situations.

During the October unit training assembly, 934 AES and 934 ASTS participated in a simulated casualties on the battlefield exercise using a complex mock medical setup hosted by Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minn.

“We have a lot of nurses and medics here who might work in a clinic where everything is stable, so we are trying to switch that mindset of clinic thinking into emergent thinking,” said Tech. Sgt. Emily Zywicki, a 934 ASTS medical technician.

While this training is hard to endure, the trainers at Regions Hospital provide a safe environment that ramps up learning for the participating Airmen without the need to make them feel insecure about skills that they don’t often use.

“There are some participating that may have never been in a scenario that needed emergency skills,” Zywicki said. “With this program at Regions Hospital, they make it so that they feel not judged, which is a huge part of learning.”

When talking about how the synergistic efforts of training between the Air Force Reserve and those at Regions Hospital affect the readiness of the Airmen, Zywicki said that the Hospital had technology for training that the unit doesn’t have access to.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” said Don Brock, Regions Hospital simulation operations manager. “They come in with the level of training that they have, and treating a mock patient in a clinical simulation will give them the ability to practice these valuable skills. It’s about communication.”

Brock speaks from experience in the civilian medical sector and as a military member who served in the medical field. He spent over twenty years in the Air Force, serving as both enlisted and officer. The medical skills and experiences he gained from the military helped him to focus training in a uniquely fostered environment that offers experiential and personal learning.

“The clinical educators that we have pulled from their experienced personal history,” he said. “They have both been there and done that. This helps us to create a realistic training scenario.”

As an educator for members from various medical backgrounds, Brock thinks the key to effectively training Airmen and medical personnel for the intensity of live emergency situations is by fostering an environment that lets those participating get into the appropriate headspace. 

“Psychologically, it’s important when training,” said Brock. “Learning with limited time and resources means that you have to condense these situations in the right way.”

When talking about effective learning, Brock said there are three ways to learn. There is the right way, the wrong way, and the way of learning things properly. When teaching 934 ASTS and 934 AES Airmen, he goes the extra mile to ensure the procedures are done correctly.

“The simulation mimics the exploits that the clinicians will go through in real life, he said. “It 100% matters if people practice the right way. We pour our heart and soul into that. If people practice the proper way to act in these situations, then they will be ready for the real thing.”

This valuable training came at no cost to the 934th Airlift Wing. Regions Hospital is committed to giving out the proper instruction for the improved education of Airmen in the spirit of readiness.

“I feel like this relationship with Regions Hospital can really grow,” said Zywicki. “One of the things that we hope happens down the road for our Airmen is the continued use of these simulations for intensive care unit experience.”