446AW aids AE in exercise Ultimate Caduceus 2023

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christopher Sommers
  • 446 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron

U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) hosted exercise Ultimate Caduceus 2023 to assess the Department of Defense’s aeromedical evacuation (AE) and critical care air transport teams (CCATT) capabilities, March 13-17, 2023, here.

More than 400 joint force military and civilian personnel participated during the exercise, including medical representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Defense Health Agency.

Major Donna Olson, a flight nurse with the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, and an Observed Controller/Coach Trainer during UC23, touts the importance of the large-scale exercise.

“What makes this exercise important is it brings in all the players to the fight that moves patients globally,” she said. “It allows in a controlled environment to surge the system, identify what needs to be improved, then to act on those areas to train to the highest standards.”

UC23 assessed the capabilities of and provided field training to AE and CCATT, and medical staging systems, as well as reception and onward movement functions for global patient movement.

“Without these types of exercises, there is not the opportunity to know where we are deficient or where we excel,” Olson said.

UC23 simulated the transportation capability using rotary and fixed-wing aircraft to move patients to and from regional medical facilities and Federal Coordinating Centers.

Master Sgt. Robert McNeal, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the exercise Aeromedical Evacuation Operational Team (AEOT) and assigned to the 156 AES, North Carolina Air National Guard, supported the benefits of the realistic training UC23 provided.

“You want to make the training as realistic as possible with some stressors you would find out in the real world,” McNeal said. “Making sure the players aren't completely stressed out, but proper learning is done.”

The 446AW had many Reserve Citizen Airmen involved as patient role-players, assisting the AE and CCATT personnel experience as real world conditions as possible.

Tech. Sgt. Shannon Glover, an intelligence analyst with the 446th Operations Support Squadron, participated as a patient role-player in the exercise and understands why joint force exercises are important.

“It's important to do exercises like this to give people a sense of what happens in real world situations,” he said. “The more you do it the less you have to think about it when it actually happens.”

Much of the exercise occurred on McChord Field, but three other locations were involved throughout the week, including: Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Boise, Idaho; and Portland, Oregon.

“A total force exercise standardizes operations,” Olson said. “We have a set of rules, regulations, and guidance that no matter the Major Command we all need to step up to that standard.”

USTRANSCOM provides the only long-range, mass patient aeromedical evacuation capabilities in the world, providing en route health care to patients from forward locations to definitive medical care.