FORT A.P. HILL, Va. -- While conducting training here, Marines had their first opportunity to conduct a fully integrated mass casualty drill the night of March 14.
The Marines, from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit's combat service support element, MEU Service Support Group 24, are here to take part in the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit's ongoing Pre-deployment Training Program.
The drill was based on a scenario involving a traffic accident and was the first time the MSSG had the chance to work with Marines from the MEU's Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Bn., 2nd Marines.
"Overall this was an excellent opportunity to conduct integrated training with BLT, 1/2 serving as our security element," said Capt. Tom Gilley, a Glen Burnie, Md., native and operations officer, MSSG-24. "The night mass casualty exercise introduced to the team the increased complexity and challenges of stabilizing, triaging and evacuating casualties at night."
For many of the Marines and Sailors participating in the exercise this was their first time conducting a mass casualty drill and most spent time prior to the exercise receiving classes on field medicine and mass casualties from the II Marine Expeditionary Force's Special Operations Training Group.
According to Gilley, SOTG and their medical staff provided a realistic scenario based upon a traffic accident of U.S. military forces in a hostile environment. This simulation allowed the Marines and sailors of the MEU to practice the processes and procedures for conducting a ship-to-shore movement of Marines and sailors as well as a ground movement to the objective area. During the exercise speed is essential so the mass casualty team worked through the systematic actions on the objectives as well as command and control.
"Doing anything at night is difficult, but our corpsman did a great job," said Capt. Eric Adams of Greenville, Mich., and the mass casualty officer-in-charge. "I think the BLT had more familiarity with missions like this, but I think we picked things up really quick."
The corpsman participating seemed to learn a lot as the evening went on.
"This was our first time doing this integrated with the BLT and at night," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Alicia Twede, a Seattle native and corpsman with MSSG-24. "We found some areas we need to improve upon, but since this was our first time, there is always room for improvement."
Another key feature of the exercise was that it allowed to MSSG to set up some Stand Operating Procedures that will help them if they are ever called upon to conduct a real mass casualty operation.
"Terrorist attacks throughout the world pose an ever-present danger to U.S. forces and we must be ready when called upon," said Gilley. "Mass casualty training and the ability to train to this critical MEU (Special Operations Capable) mission while at Fort A.P. Hill has been essential for MSSG-24. For most of the corpsman this was their first time executing a mission like this and they performed well, especially since this was the first time the team had worked together."