Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. -- A total of 26 students comprised of service members and civilian first-response agents gathered Sept. 23 to perform a mass casualty training exercise at Jackrabbits Path near Border Patrols Headquarter Sector.
Station Marines, along with Border Patrol agents and the Yuma Proving Ground Fire and the Police Departments, conducted the exercise as part of a two-week mass casualty training course.
The training was organized by Joint Task Force Six and a Navy medical team based out of Fort Bliss, Texas. Joint Task Force Six is tasked with providing counter drug support for the nation's law enforcement agencies.
However, all the training for the course was conducted by the U.S. Border Patrol's Search, Trauma and Rescue Team, U.S. Naval Reserve Fleet Hospital, based out of Dallas, and the U.S. Army's 2nd Medical Brigade.
"We wanted to bring all of the cities first responders together for this exercise," said Joe Brigman, Border Patrol public information officer. "That way in case an incident were to ever happen, all the departments would be comfortable working together."
The training was a good chance to train service members (for medical emergencies) so they can go back (to their units) and share what they learned, said Brigman.
According to Armando Carrasco, JTF Six public affairs officer, "All these students already have extensive experience as first responders. All we are doing here is introducing them to a new situation and giving them further training."
"This was more of a refresher course for all of us since we are already (Emergency Medical Technician) certified," said Cpl. Lucas Graham. "We also received a lot of chemical biological and hazardous material training that will be was very useful later on."
After receiving two weeks of training, the students had to apply what they learned and work together in the mass casualty drill.
The simulated situation for the students was an accident involving two vehicles. Each vehicle had about a dozen passengers who were severely injured, some worse than others. The injuries varied from bleeding, broken bones, chest and head wounds to requiring mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
The students were required to analyze the wounds and determine who required immediate medical attention, said Carrasco. The students were also responsible for calling any additional supporting units, such as air support or ambulances.
Despite not knowing what to expect, the students did a great job, said Lance Corporal Chris Rosas, mass casualty victim.
"When the agent approached me, I automatically tried to freak him out," he added. "At first it worked, but then he took control of the situation. He did a good job of making me feel comfortable. He was talking to me and telling me step by step what he was doing."
Fabian Basina, volunteer from the Yuma Catholic high school to play a mass casualty victim, was also impressed by the manner in which the students handled the situation.
"When I came here, I was told that (the students) were in the middle of some kind of training, therefore I wasn't expecting them to do as good," added Basina. "They arrived at the scene and were quick at assessing the situation. They also did a head-to-toe assessment. They were constantly talking to me, making sure I was all right and reassuring me everything would be okay."
After successfully evacuating 29 "immediate" patients in an hour and 15 minutes, the evaluators were impressed by their efforts.
"The exercise was a 100 percent success," added Brigman. "This was the culmination of two weeks of training in classes. After today's exercise, the students will go away with better coordination and training. With this training, they will be able to use their skills in a real-life scenario."