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Operation Global Medic

Castle Airport plays host to military exercise

Operation Global Medic

Air Force medical technicians check on dummies during a Global Medic training exercise at Castle Airport on Friday.


POSTED June 27, 2009 3:59 p.m.
Residents of Merced County may have been a little confused to see Air Force and Army personnel at Castle Airport this week. The airport, which was once Castle Air Force Base, has not been an active military site since 1995. Beginning June 2, however, Army and Air Force personnel have been using the base for training exercises.
Operation Global Medic 2009 is a joint training exercise between the Army and the Air Force. The operation is expected to last until June 18 and will take place between Castle Airport outside of Atwater and Fort Hunter Ligget in Southern Monterey County. During the training exercise Army and Air Force personnel will practice securing patients in the battle field, triaging them, and transporting them by airplane to a military hospital. The “hospital” in this scenario is Schoonover Field at Hunter Ligget.
Plastic dummies dressed in uniforms simulated soldiers wounded on a battle field. On Friday, Army personnel practiced team-lifting the dummies on stretchers from the Humvee to the C130J Hercules aircraft. Air Force medical technicians and flight nurses then secured the patients for flight. The aircraft then took off from Castle Airport and flew to Hunter Ligget to simulate an actual medical airlift.
Marc Yim, the officer in charge of the Army’s side of the training, said that the exercise was a good way to learn how to “speak Air Force.” He said that there are many things that the Army and the Air Force do differently when it comes to airlifting patients. For example, the Army uses helicopters and the Air Force uses airplanes. Army members in Global Medic had to get used to little differences like lifting a stretcher between two people instead of four.
Colonel Jeff Pennington of the Air Force Reserve Command said that the operation is not normally conducted on the West coast. Castle Airport was chosen because it had the facilities needed to properly carry out Global Medic.
“This particular exercise is a big one that we do once a year,” Pennington said.
Over the course of the next week approximately 140 people will take part in the California portion of Global Medic. The training exercise took place in five locations this year. Aside from the two California locations, the operation was also held at Fort Gordon, Ga.; Bush Field, Ga.; and Fort McCoy, Wis. Throughout the exercise military personnel will train in dealing with battle trauma, disease, non-battle injuries, and combat stress casualties.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail agoodwin@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.

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