ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE BASE TINDAL, Australia -- As part of Exercise Southern Frontier 2014, Navy corpsmen and flight surgeons are participating in continuous search-and-rescue training with the Royal Australian Air Force Base Tindal’s SAR flight crew.
Southern Frontier is an annual bilateral training exercise between the RAAF and the United States Marine Corps with a primary focus on offensive air support and enhancing military interoperability.
The purpose behind the joint SAR training is to teach sailors proper procedures in case of an emergency, including how to assess a patient in order to stabilize them for the flight, as well as importance of treating the patient in a time efficient and effective manner before getting them on a helicopter.
“As trained medical personnel, we are taught how to help patients,” said Navy Lt. Krista Koch, a flight surgeon with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171. “However, as part of the SAR crew here, we learn the importance of being able to extract a wounded individual from different locations.”
As SF14 continues, SAR pilots present sailors with different scenarios including winching down from a helicopter in an open field, treating a patient and preparing a patient for a medevac in dense woods.
“Back in (Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan), we treat our patients inside the clinic,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeff Francisco, a hospital corpsman with MWSS-171. “Being out here in a deployed environment and being able to take part in this kind of training is a great opportunity. Being in a helicopter and flying to different locations and learning how to treat potential patients is a one of a kind experience.”
Francisco said that his experience with the Tindal SAR flight crew has sparked an interest in SAR operations and looks forward to the opportunity to take Navy SAR training.
With continual training taking place, each of the six Navy medical team members will progress to advanced SAR exercises including nighttime medevac’s and time restraint exercises.