MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- The Branch Medical Clinic held its annual mass casualty drill Oct. 20 at the station clinic.
The drill is conducted at least once a year to make sure the procedures that would take place in real-life scenarios are up to par.
“The main reason this drill is done is to see what we can do differently and improve upon in case of an event or a disaster,” said Lt. j.g. Beth Kane, BMC coordinator and native of Findlay, Ohio.
Cmdr. Dan Cornwell, BMC officer-in-charge, said he believes this mass casualty drill was the best one the clinic has done yet.
“We have training set up throughout the year, but we only do hands-on training twice a year,” said Cornwell. “One is our own mass casualty drill, and the other is the station-wide mass casualty drill.”
The BMC sailors simulated finding “wounded” Marines and then figuring out what was wrong with them and treating them accordingly.
The injuries ranged from rashes to heart attacks and severe burns.
The first step for the injured Marines was to go through a decontamination trailer, which was the second time the equipment was used in a BMC mass casualty drill.
“The decontamination trailer has an eye-washing station and general-treatment showers for both male and female,” said Lt. Daniel Lesley, BMC general medical officer. “The showers also have several detergents to neutralize any chemical that a victim may be contaminated with.”
After decontamination, victims were passed on to the triage area.
Triage assesses the situation and the wounded are categorized into walking wounded, urgent, immediate and evacuation.
“This evolution was much improved compared to the previous one,” said Lt. Cmdr. Salinas Phillips, BMC senior medical officer. “The drill was a little more realistic this time. I tried to do the drill in real-time because it takes time to care for injured. During the drill, they are not really injured, so it can be hard to simulate how long it would take. The patient flow through the different areas went smoother than before, which helped the overall drill. Since the victims went through the decontamination, we had to deal with hypothermia, which also made it more realistic.”
The Marines were kind enough to allow the corpsmen to do real intravenous drips on them, Phillips added.
“I just want to give a big thanks to the Marines for letting us put real IV’s in them this time,” said Cornwell. “I believe this was the first time we have ever done that.”
“Performing an IV is good because some of the corpsmen haven’t had the chance to do it as often,” said Phillips. “If they go to combat, it comes in handy to have practiced beforehand.”
“Overall, I think it went very smooth for us,” said Lesley a native of Washington D.C. “We didn’t have any significant trip-ups. We were able to coordinate with the people after (the drill) to make sure we weren’t rushing the victims too quickly -- leaving them out there with no one to treat them.”
The Marine volunteers were happy to be a part of the drill in order to help the sailors get hands-on training.
“I was glad to be a part of this because it was funny to see everyone going everywhere,” said Lance Cpl. Jesse Bailey, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron telephone switchboard technician. “I would be very comfortable if the station really did have a mass casualty and the clinic had to support it. I wouldn’t mind doing this again so the sailors can train.”
The BMC sailors will be able to get some hands-on practice again early next year when they participate in the station-wide mass casualty drill.