Fort McCoy News June 28, 2013

National Guard trains on helicopter MEDEVAC tasks

STORY & PHOTOS BY ROB SCHUETTE
Public Affairs Staff

Helicopter crews from Wisconsin and Nebraska Army National Guard units conducted annual training at Fort McCoy to bring personnel up to speed on readiness tasks involving medical operations.

PHOTO 1 for helicopter story
National Guard Soldiers from aviation units training at Fort McCoy with a Blackhawk helicopter take off on a mission after supporting training with the 339th Psychological Operations Company.

Capt. Randall Ramm, acting commander of F Company of the 2nd Battalion, 238th Aviation Regiment of West Bend, Wis., said the June 8-21 training brought together units that returned from a deployment in 2011. In addition to the 2nd, 238th, Guardsmen from the 2nd, 248th and the 2nd, 135th participated in the training at Fort McCoy.

"The training helped the many new personnel in the units," Ramm said. "We had pilots progress in hoist operations and crew members progress in general crew duties to become fully mission qualified. The training was excellent."

The June training session focused on picking up injured personnel, he said.

The units use Blackhawk (UH-60) helicopters to complete their missions, Ramm said. The highlight of the training was a water-hoist medical evacuation mission conducted at Big Sandy Lake.

Sgt. Leif Skindrud, a crew chief for C Company, 2nd, 135th, said crews flew their helicopters from their home stations to Fort McCoy, so they trained on creating flight plans, as well.

"The training helps to standardize the way everyone conducts a mission," Skindrud said. "We're trying to incorporate readiness training all the time we're together."

PHOTO 2 for helicopter story
Soldiers from the 339th Psychological Operations Company train on removing a stretcher from an operational Blackhawk helicopter in conjunction with the National Guard helicopter crew members.

Sgt. Shawn Mathwich, a non-rated flight instructor form the 2nd, 135th, said he helps train members of the flight crew to do new duties, such as medics, crew chiefs, etc.

"We learn a lot by training with the other units," Mathwich said. "We got a different point of view when we were deployed with them and know how they like things done."

During its time at Fort McCoy, the units trained on other missions, including loading and unloading equipment, and procedures to call in a nine-line medical evacuation request, he said.

Capt. Ryan Gore, the commander of the 339th Psychological Operations Company of Arden Hills, Minn., said his unit, which also conducted annual training at Fort McCoy, made use of the aviation assets to conduct combat lifesaver training in loading and unloading stretchers from helicopters.

"It provided us with an excellent training opportunity that otherwise would not have been available," Gore said.

PHOTO 3 for helicopter story
Blackhawk helicopter crews train on water-extrication techniques at Fort McCoy's Big Sandy Lake.