N.H. medics exchange best practices
By Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt, 157th Air Refuling Wing
/ Published July 02, 2012
SAN JUAN OPICO, El Salvador -- Five medical personnel from the New Hampshire Air National Guard traveled here to participate in a Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear High Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) exchange with local authorities June 26.
More than twenty members of the Center of Training Peace Operations (CEOPAZ), an El Salvador Army unit responsible for search and rescue operations were trained with members of Green Cross, an all-volunteer civil organization, local firefighters and Commandos De Salvamento.
The morning began with a briefing by team lead, Capt. Rex Rubin, a search and extraction operations manager for CERFP. Rubin briefed the program's history and how New Hampshire manages it.
"Rarely do I get an opportunity to work in an environment that I can give back to the community in a way that there is tangible evidence that I have done something for the better," said Rubin. "As guardsmen, we seem to be most challenged in times of great need and are able to rise to meet unforeseen situations. It's a great feeling."
Rubin was pleased with the results and the interest the soldiers are taking in the information giving to them.
"While working in El Salvador, it was equally challenging to teach a multicultural audience the concepts of the New England CERFP model," continued Rubin. "I can see these soldiers processing the information we've shared with them and implementing it into their own dynamic environments. It really was a cooperative collaboration of ideas."
The morning continued with a briefing by Master Sgt. Sandy Roberts, who provided a briefing on the CERFP flow of events in a search and rescue.
"My greatest concern was in whether or not what we do in the CERFP search and extraction element would apply in the El Salvadorian situation," said Roberts. "I thought it important to show the bigger picture in order to show how CERFP has developed its flow of action over a number of years and situations. We have made an effort to show how all the pieces of the puzzle fit and work together."
Senior Airman Alexa Schimmel next provided a presentation on personal protection equipment (PPE) and demonstrated how to use it.
"After being a search and extraction medic for some time now, the process of wearing and using the PPE is second nature," said Schimmel. "It is easy to forget how hard it was to understand and learn what equipment goes on first and in what order. I was concerned with properly conveying the proper usage and the importance of each piece of clothing and equipment with the language barrier."
According to senior base officials, the opportunity to participate in a bilateral exchange of information similar to this as part of the El Salvador exchange program with the New Hampshire National Guard is a critical element to their success.
"It's very important we work together and exchange ideas in order to be successful," said Col. Juan Bustante, Del CEOPAZ commander. "We then work together and exchange ideas with local civil authorities to help local people who are suffering."
Followed by a briefing from a senior base official, Tech. Sgt. Shawn Theberge and Tech. Sgt. Michael Dame instructed on clean and dirty environments, the use of Simple Triage and Rapid Transport (START) triage, patient care and movement concerns, hot zone and clean triage concerns, cervical spine precautions.
Theberge and Dame also trained attendees on the M9 bag and the patient treatment applications that are available to the provider.
"The training today was a great means of initial integration of Salvadoran military and civilian providers learning valuable skills for future use," said Theberge.
The New Hampshire and El Salvador state partnership program, which began in 2000, averages several exchanges annually.