National Guard, PTA partner to carry out medevac exercise

| June 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
Personnel prepare for the exercise. (Courtesy photo)

Personnel prepare for the exercise. (Courtesy photo)

Lt. Col. Wayde Minami
Contributing Writer

HILO, Hawaii — The Hawaii National Guard’s Joint Task Force 5-0, working in cooperation with Hilo Medical Center and an active Army aviation unit currently at Pohukuloa Training Area, conducted a medical evacuation training exercise, here, June 6, ultimately to test procedures and ensure smooth military-civilian interface in the event an actual aerial medical evacuation using military helicopters as a result of the eruption and subsequent lava flows in Hawaii County.

Joint Task Force 5-0 is the combined state and federal response to the ongoing Kilauea volcanic eruptions. It is comprised primarily of National Guard troops from Hawaii, augmented by active duty federal forces and National Guard members from other states.

Personnel discuss the situation during the exercise. (Courtesy photo)

Personnel discuss the situation during the exercise. (Courtesy photo)

“[If] this scenario would take place, it would be a worst-case scenario, where we had to exercise a standard nine-line medevac to extract or save a patient,” explained Hawaii Army National Guard 1st Lt. Ryan Sutherland, the exercise planning officer. “Over the last four to five weeks, we faced a lot of challenges, issues and situations we normally do not deal with as a community. The combined element, commonly referred to as JTF 5-0, is here to support them in any way they can.”

U.S. Army HH-60 “Black Hawk” medical evacuation helicopters that were deployed to support training at Pohakuloa Training Area participated in the exercise. The uniquely equipped helicopter provides a broad rescue capability, including the ability to hoist victims into the aircraft without having to land.

The exercise was reminiscent of an event last July, when a Marine officer was critically wounded in a training event during a night exercise at Pohakuloa Training Area. A medevac helicopter airlifted the officer to Hilo Medical Center, where doctors were able to save his life.

During the present emergency, helicopters from Pohakuloa Training Area have been on standby in case they are needed to rescue residents trapped by lava, or similar crisis occurs where military airlift is required.

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Category: Community Relations, News, Safety

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