Story by SGT Liane Hatch on 04/08/2019CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait Approximately 25 Soldiers from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division participated in the planning and execution of a capstone joint training event that involved Kuwait and U.S. forces and local Kuwaiti medical emergency personnel on April 2, 2019.
The event, called Pacemaker III, took place at several locations in northern Kuwait and simulated a national and allied-nation response to a wide-scale, mass-casualty emergency in the region: in this case, an oil rig explosion.
During the event, 3ABCT Soldiers worked alongside Kuwaiti medics and personnel from the nearby Al Jahra hospital to triage and treat 10 simulated casualties, with injuries ranging from mild to life-threatening. Casualties arrived to the Iron Brigade medics, physicians' assistants, and surgeons after being evacuated from the point of injury, and, after receiving field treatment were then transported to hospitals throughout the region via ambulance or helicopter.
"We're practicing our tactical casualty care, but more importantly, we're continuing to build partnership with our Kuwaiti neighbors so that we can hopefully have more joint exercises like this in the future," said Lt. Col. Saioa Torrealday, battalion surgeon for 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3ABCT.
"Our Soldiers are getting a lot of training value out of the collaboration; we rarely get a chance to partner with another group like this, and doing this kind of training in such a unique environment is a great opportunity," she said.
For some, like Pvt. Megan Hagel, it was a day of firsts. Hagel arrived to 1-68 fresh out of Advanced Individual Training just before the unit deployed to Kuwait. For her, not only was Pacemaker III the first field training exercise she conducted with the unit, it was also her first time loading a patient onto a helicopter.
"It was pretty incredible to be a part of a big group, especially working with the Kuwaitis. The way that we were all able to pick it up immediately and just go without any hesitation was awesome," she said. During the exercise, Hagel gained experience by helping triage patients upon their arrival to the aid station.
U.S. and Kuwaiti forces used the training opportunity to not only hone their individual skills, but to learn best practices from one another.
"The whole event went really well it was nice to work side-to-side with our allies and counterparts," said 1st Lt. Shem Umana, 1-68's battalion medical officer and the platoon leader for medical platoon.
"We learned a lot from them about how their systems work, and we got to show them how ours work. It was a learning experience for both sides, and everyone out here today was eager to learn and to get better," he said.
Exercise Pacemaker III is the direct result of a growing relationship between the Kuwait Land Forces' Kuwait North Military Medical Complex and the U.S. Army's 452th Combat Support Hospital, who partner to increase their capabilities and interoperability. More than 10 different military units, including 3ABCT, cooperated together to accomplish the single-day training exercise.