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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 23, 2008

WSU Boonshoft School of Medicine provides hands-on training for military, civilian emergency personnel

Tactical field exercise involves a downed plane, rappelling down a ridge, and helicopter evacuation

DAYTON, Ohio-Oakes Quarry Park in Fairborn became the site of an elaborate tactical field exercise for U.S Air Force and Army National Guard emergency personnel and civilian emergency medical technicians (EMTs) today. The exercise, part of a unique weeklong recertification course, featured a realistic simulation of a plane crash amid rugged terrain, including the use of a full-size, wrecked private plane with volunteer "victims" and high-tech, remote-controlled medical mannequins inside.

Participants in the training assessed and responded to the situation using real procedures and equipment, including specialized gear designed to safely extract crash victims from the wreckage, provide immediate life-saving care, and lower them securely from a steep ridge to more stable ground. Miami Valley Hospital's CareFlight Air and Mobile Services also planned to participate by providing a helicopter evacuation of the patients.

The scale and realism of the intense scenario were exciting, but the nature of the course itself is equally remarkable, according to Mark Gebhart, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine with the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine and director of the school's National Center for Medical Readiness (NCMR), which sponsored the training.

"We're creating a fairly unique opportunity for military and civilian paramedics to work together, learn from one another, and lay the groundwork for better collaboration in the event of a real emergency," Gebhart said.

Disasters such as hurricanes or floods, disease epidemics, and terrorist attacks are all situations that can require a rapid, large-scale, and well-coordinated response by military and civilian personnel. Unfortunately, training that brings together first responders from both sides is rare, Gebhart explained.

The NCMR training adapted a curriculum based on Ohio EMT recertification requirements by adding a tactical focus to the lectures and activities. For example, one exercise involved isolating participants in a warehouse overnight to simulate providing care during a siege by hostile forces or a prolonged natural disaster.

The course attracted 10 participants and numerous observers from throughout the Dayton region and as far away as Utah and West Virginia. In addition to Wright State and Miami Valley Hospital, the Englewood Fire Department, police and fire departments of other local communities and the fire department of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base helped to provide portions of the training.

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