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Command cell provides exercise control for aeromedical mission

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jennifer Gerhardt
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Six Reservists from the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron are participating in the Pacific Lifeline exercise in Hawaii Jan. 26 to Feb. 9.

Pacific Lifeline is a total force exercise designed to exercise the military's ability to rapidly arrive and leave a trained, equipped team anywhere in the Pacific in response to a humanitarian assistance or disaster scenario. More than 900 Department of Defense personnel are participating in the exercise, including about 145 Reservists from the 446th Airlift Wing.

The Reservists make up the Aeromedical Command Cell which provides command and control for aeromedical forces to include direction, control, discipline, morale and caring for deployed forces.

""We basically provide oversight," said Master Sgt. Rita Herrington, 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. "Whatever the aeromedical people require, they identify it to us and we meet their needs."

For the exercise, the first issue that was addressed was communications. Each island had different capabilities, so the command cell worked out a solution quickly to keep communications flowing.

"Communication is vital to what we do and would be the first thing addressed no matter where we hit the ground," said Sergeant Herrington. "Without communication, the mission would obviously be more difficult."

During a real-world event, the command cell try to be set up as close as possible to the aeromedical forces working. Once they hit the ground, the first priorities are personnel accountability, communication, and site selection.

"It is somewhat of a whirlwind with multiple competing demands," said Lt. Col. Pat Pound, 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron medical readiness commander. "We have to make sure they have the resources to do the job - whether it is people, time or equipment."

The most challenging, but number one task for the command cell, is ensuring the right information gets to the right people at the right time.

"Once the exercise started, the most important thing for us was to ensure the safety and well-being of the aeromedical forces," said Colonel Pound. "These aeromedical teams are the best in the business and we want to make sure they have all the resources they need to do their job."