Story by LTC Angela Wallace on 04/08/2018FORT MCCOY, Wisconsin -- Patient after patient continues to arrive in waves at the combat support hospital, tasking the hospital staff who have run out of bed space and medical personnel needed to manage the treatment of the severe injuries these mock patients have sustained. Communications have been unreliable and soon the hospital will need to prepare to jump', or move, their unit further forward to support the needs of the warfighting units who are entrenched in battle in a contentious combat environment.
This is the challenge that Army Reserve's Ready Force X medical units were faced with during their participation in Bridge Combat Support Training Exercise Regional Medic 78-18-03 conducted March 10-30, 2018 at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.
Regional Medic, a medical exercise hosted by Medical Readiness and Training Command, nested within 84th Training Command's Bridge CSTX 78-18-03 at Fort Knox, Kentucky, alongside a Theater Opening Exercise held at Fort Eustis and Fort Story, Virginia. The combined exercises within Bridge CSTX included more than 11,000 service members from nearly 200 units across the country. Bridge CSTX's entire training focus supported Ready Force X units, whose preparation revolves around being trained and ready to deploy at a moment's notice.
Lt. Col. Bryan Stevens, commander of 3rd Medical Command Deployment Support's 399th Combat Support Hospital shared why Regional Medic is important for his unit as one of two combat support hospitals in the training audience. "Doing a large, collective event like Regional Medic is critical to the development of a combat support hospital. When we do other support events, we don't actually set up the hospital.
"Those support events are good for individual skills training from a clinical standpoint; however, we don't function in an operational environment like we do [at Fort McCoy], so having the ability to do a CSTX is truly critical for us to be able to do all the tasks and all of the skills that are necessary for this hospital to be successful when deployed," said Stevens.
The Regional Medic training task force included approximately 225 personnel serving as Observer Coach / Trainers and support staff for a training audience of approximately 2,100 medical personnel in 25 units assigned to both the 807th and 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support).
Lt. Col. Michael Moyle, the exercise project officer for Bridge CSTX Regional Medic, explained initial steps for the complex exercise.
"During the planning phase, we looked at all of the participating units' mission essential tasks and went through them with the units to determine how MRTC could thoroughly test each of the medical unit's capabilities," said Moyle.
The planning phase, which works through ensuring each unit has a crawl, walk and run stage, had a new requirement for Regional Medic the addition of 43 directed Lethal Warrior tasks incorporated into the crawl stage for all participating units.
"While we were planning the field exercise, the 307th Medical Brigade took on the task of putting together the lanes and testing for 43 warrior tasks and battle drills. What these units really needed was to go back to the basics and focus on how to survive on the battlefield, which includes being able to shoot, move and communicate," said Moyle.
Beyond the added warrior tasks, Regional Medic offered additional challenges placed into the scenarios to push the training audience to their limits.
"Based on the scenario created for Regional Medic, there will be many casualties. This is different from what the combat support hospitals are used to, but it's important to stress these units beyond their normal threshold in order to ensure they're prepared for battles against any enemy we may face anywhere in the world," Moyle said.
Moyle explained that the benefit of a CSTX like Regional Medic is that it provides a training opportunity for medical units to refine their processes to be the best that they can be in the most stressful environment a training platform can emulate, and can help units to be successful in executing everything from basic warrior tasks to the full operational aspect of what that unit can do both on the battlefield and on the move.
Col. Mark Worley, MRTC's chief of operations, emphasized the role that the training audience plays in their own success at an exercise like Regional Medic. "The most important thing for the units that are coming in here to know is that they need to take this opportunity very seriously.
"We're going to provide the life support and the training opportunity for them, but they need to take ownership of training their Soldiers to understand that this might be the last training that they get before they move to another theater of operations," emphasized Worley.
Worley also explained why the training platform MRTC provides is so important for medical units across the Army Reserve. "As far as building readiness in the Army Reserve, MRTC provides the only training platform that exercises medical units from a brigade down to the lowest level inclusive of all the downtrace units like veterinary and minimal care detachments.
"We also expand that opportunity to connect the units up to the operational command post. There is no other training platform that does what Regional Medic and Global Medic can do this is a premier training platform," Worley said.
Maj. Gen. Mary Link, Army Reserve Medical Command commanding general, echoed the importance of the training platform ARMEDCOM's Medical Readiness and Training Command provides.
"I think MRTC does it the best. MRTC provides a consistently great training venue for their training audience. They have worked diligently to provide that capability and support to enhance training events like Regional Medic, truly challenging their training audience in the most realistic environment technology can provide.
"For anything that occurs in the future, the Army Reserve's medical community will be ready when the Nation calls," Link concluded.