Wing joins local agencies for National Disaster Medical System Exercise

  • Published
  • By Maj. Anthony Bucci
  • 109th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Members from several local agencies across the Capital District participated in a coordinated National Disaster Medical System Exercise here July 27 - Aug. 2.

"Understanding our state mission, which separates us from our active duty counterparts, we realize how important interagency cooperation is when disaster strikes. That is why we, along with our civilian partners, participate in these field training exercises. So that when disaster strikes, like a Hurricane Sandy, we are better prepared to operate effectively and seamlessly in a joint interagency environment," said Capt. Richard Legault, Operations Flight commander, 139th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.

The agencies consisted of members from the 109th Airlift Wing, 139th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, the Albany Stratton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Disaster Medical System, the Civil Air Patrol and the East Glenville Fire Department.

During this exercise, "patients" (participating cadets from the Civil Air Patrol) were moved from the nearby East Glenville Volunteer Fire Department to Stratton ANGB. They were stabilized for transport, loaded onto an LC-130 Hercules and evacuated by members of the 139th AES, who were sharpening their skills for an actual medical evacuation.

This exercise highlighted the vital function of the 109th AW and 139th AES in the NDMS and Homeland Defense mission as well as the cooperation and coordination between the 109th AW and New York state civilian medical and emergency management assets.

"The National Disaster Medical System combines federal and non-federal medical resources into a unified response to meet natural and man-made disaster needs, as well as support patient treatment requirements from military contingencies," said Lt. Col. Brian Backus, 139th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron commander. "These types of joint training exercises demonstrate how the dual-use value of the Air National Guard will continue to deliver homeland forces to the nation, states, territories, and district in times of need, and strengthen enduring relationships at home and abroad."

This exercise demonstrated interagency partnership among the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs and the instrumental role of aeromedical evacuation in the national emergency response and national defense frameworks.

Stratton ANGB is designated as a federal coordinating center, one of only 10 National Guard bases with this responsibility. The mission of an FCC is to recruit hospitals and maintain local non-federal hospital participation in the NDMS; coordinate exercise development and emergency plans with participating hospitals and other local authorities in order to develop patient reception, transportation and communication plans; and during system activation, coordinate the reception and distribution of patients being evacuated to the area.

As members of the National Guard, the Airmen of the 109th AW have responded to a number of state emergencies including Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

This exercise enabled the agencies to practice for future natural disasters.