DURANT, Okla. –
Medical professionals with the Oklahoma National Guard mentored more than 170 emergency medical technicians, highway patrol medics, and firefighters participating in a Regional Emergency Medical Services System training event at the Choctaw Event Center in Durant, Oklahoma, Sept. 21, 2022.
Capt. Thalia Douglas, Capt. Luke Russell, Sgt. 1st Class Ron Poland, of the 63rd Civil Support Team and Capt. Vanessa Weaver, the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s deputy state surgeon served as observers, coaches and trainers for the exercise that brought first responders from across the state together to share best practices and most importantly, focused on inter-agency cooperation.
“That's what [REMSS] does, it takes agencies from all over the state and it puts them together. It trains them together; it teaches them how to respond together,” said Brian Lancaster, Region Three REMSS representative. “They know how to treat organophosphate exposure; they know how to innovate and start IVs; they know how to do all that. That wasn't the main point of the training. The main part of the training was to teach them how to do all that together [as a team].”
Oklahoma’s Regional Emergency Medical Services System was developed in support of the Homeland Security Regional Response System by providing EMS medical equipment, personnel, and transportation capabilities during major events or disasters and is one of the key state partners the Oklahoma National Guard works alongside during emergencies at within the state.
Weaver, the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s deputy state surgeon, who has previously worked with REMSS as a medical officer with the 63rd CST, said the worst time for first responders to learn how to work together is during the chaos of a real-world emergency.
“The Guard's role in today's event started a while back.” Weaver said. “The bottom line of training was to continue to develop the relationships that we have with the emergency medical response assets across the team. Even though we have a very strong relationship, this is truly just the beginning of what's to come and what the Oklahoma National Guard and the civilian medical sector can build together.”
The training scenario simulated a tour bus colliding with a train filled with organophosphates - a group of human-made chemicals that poison insects and mammals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, organophosphates are the most widely used insecticides, agriculture, the home, gardens, and veterinary practice.
The first responders’ objective was to treat decontaminated patients and evacuate them from the area as quickly as possible while tracking which patients were sent to which simulated hospitals as to not overwhelm any single hospital.
The patients were played by health careers educations students from Kiamichi Technology Center’s Durant Campus who were given cards describing their wounds and instructed to create as chaotic scene as possible to stress the first responders.
Poland, a medical noncommissioned officer with the 63rd CST, said the scenario fell directly within his unit’s area of expertise. Part of the 63rd’s job is to give guidance on what procedures should be used during these types of situations.
“The idea behind this drill was that we not only had trauma casualties, but we also had victims who were exposed to an organophosphate,” Poland said. “And, the civil support team really shines during chemical, biological, and/or radiological disasters.”
Poland was very grateful to be able to train with REMSS members. He also explained why being a part of this kind of event is so important to the 63rd CST.
“The Civil Sport Team is an outstanding organization and I've been very fortunate to be a part of it for quite some time,” Poland said. “It's real privilege to be able to go out and interact with the communities that we grow up in and help the people who helped raise us.