Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Kirby Turbak
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The 86th Aerial Evacuation Squadron recently hosted the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Emergency Medical Technician Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base, July 23-24.
Seven teams of four Airmen from across Europe competed against each other in an array of situations that medics and combat medics face, like medication overdoses, drownings, gunshot victims, vehicle extractions, and a mass casualty with 30 victims.
“It’s vital for our medics to have the opportunity to train like we fight,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jason Oldenburg, USAFE-AFAFRICA Command Surgeon chief. “Putting them in stressful situations enhances their critical thinking skills and builds resiliency.”
The teams consisted of members from Incirlik AB, Turkey; Aviano AB, Italy; Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England; RAF Croughton, England; RAF Alconbury, England; Spangdahlem AB, Germany; and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany.
The challenges these Airmen faced required their endurance, attention to detail, and teamwork.
“When we introduce a competitive spirit and realistic scenarios, training becomes a lot of fun and very impactful,” said Oldenburg. “At the end of the day it’s all about being ready to save lives when the flag goes up, and this competition builds medical skills, teamwork, confidence, and resiliency that will be vital attributes of an Air Force Combat Medic in the future.”
Each challenge was made as real as possible by using scenario actors, prosthetics, makeup, and imitation blood.
“Each team was faced with five very different challenges they may see in combat or otherwise,” said Oldenburg. “They’re scored on how well they meet the objectives of each scenario. At the end, the scores are tallied and a winner is determined.”
On top of that, those competing were required to carry all their necessary medical equipment and wear helmets and body armor in more than 90 degree weather.
After two days of fake blood, real sweat, but thankfully no tears, the title of USAFE EMT Rodeo winner went to members of the 48th Medical Group from RAF Lakenheath.
Winners are scheduled to go to Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., to represent USAFE in the annual U.S. Air Force EMT Rodeo.
“This was a fantastic event and went as well as we could have hoped for our first one in USAFE,” said Oldenburg. “In the future we hope to get more funding so that we subject our participants to even more immersive scenarios. We’re also looking at involving some of our joint partners in future events.