347th Rescue Group initiates new medical, survival training

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Daniel Snider and Airman Eugene Oliver
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs

Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists and Independent Duty Medical Technicians recently partnered to innovate a more realistic training experience for 23d Wing aircrew.

The training is designed to merge many smaller courses into one three-day course that seamlessly ties together different skills that could be used together in the event that Airmen become isolated during a mission.

“Our goal is to incorporate a higher level than the initial SERE training so they’re better prepared if the time comes for them to use the tactics and techniques they learned in SERE,” said Tech. Sgt. Daniel Wiggins, 347th Operations Support Squadron SERE specialist. “Right now, I think we’ve demonstrated some capabilities at Moody that many people haven’t really tapped into.”

While the SERE team strives toward advancing with new technology and techniques, the IDMTs have gradually been phasing Tactical Combat Casualty Care into more training scenarios in the place of Self Aid Buddy Care.

“We’re moving toward TCCC because it puts you in a stressful environment where you operate in realistic conditions, more like downrange,” said Staff Sgt. Cory Newby, 347th OSS IDMT paramedic. “SABC is a one-skill academic. You’re sitting in a classroom and the objective is to apply a tourniquet, but TCCC doesn’t just end after you perform a skill.”

Newby explained that adding stressors like opposing forces who are firing at them, explosions and smoke grenades can make simple tasks much more difficult.

“This is a whole scenario where you have to apply all these skills, but while being shot at” said Newby. “Your buddy just went down and you need to get a tourniquet on him and then think about what to do next. So, you’ve put a tourniquet on, but you’re still being shot at so you need your teammates to provide cover fire while you drag him behind cover. Then, you have to begin the next phase of care for all these injuries.”

Not only has the medical side of training became more realistic, but the SERE portion has benefited from additional practicality too.

“We’ve added in [Combat Search and Rescue] too,” said Wiggins. “So the 41st [Rescue Squadron] and the 71st [Rescue Squadron] can work with real-live people on the ground who are evading.

“The students are actually working with aircraft in the terminal area as the survivor on the ground,” Wiggins added. “It gives them a terrific perspective for when they’re the guy in the cockpit going to rescue somebody and understanding some of the difficulties that they’re experiencing on the ground.”

While the course has taken strides toward making training more effective, Wiggins said it still needs continuous improvement to ensure it remains cutting edge.

“We can plan out anything when given good direction and leadership, which we have,” said Wiggins. “Really it’s figuring out what we missed when we were planning and that’s what this process is.”

After some polishing, Wiggins said there is potential for the program to spread across the Air Force.

“We are starting to see some higher-threat evasion scenarios for the fighter pilots from some other bases,” said Wiggins. “They don’t include SABC currently, so if we develop a model that sufficiently uses time, then I think it’s possible.”

While the length of the course may seem demanding on flying units, Newby echoed the importance of these skills and how bringing them into one course adds to realism.

“I’ve been downrange and seen what can happen when these skills can’t be applied properly, people die,” Newby said. “Its great training and I’m glad they merged the two because if they’re going to use these skills as HH-60G and HC-130 [aircrew], it’s going to be when an aircraft crashes."

“They’re going to have to implement both the survival aspect and the medicine aspect of survival. So merging the courses just made sense. I think it’s going to keep going this direction for a while and hopefully spreads across the Air-Force.”