PAMACON preps Airmen to save lives
KADENA AIR BASE, JAPAN -- More than 50 pairs of boots trampled through the mud May 20, as 18th Medical Group Airmen carried stretchers, tourniquets, bandages and other medical equipment through Kadena Air Bases' Area One for the Preventative Aerospace Medicine Convention, a first-of-its-kind field training exercise.
The event, also known as PAMACON, was hosted by the 18th Aerospace Medicine Squadron and focused on establishing and supporting an operational site in a deployment environment.
Airmen broke down into smaller 'deployed' groups called chalk teams and cycled through seven different training stations testing their medical knowledge and life-sustaining skillsets. The training also challenged Airmen to step outside of their lane of expertise and learn from their wingmen from various medical backgrounds.
"This was highly effective on exposing Airmen to different tasks that are not necessary in their career field," said Senior Airman Derek Weber, 18th AMDS base operational medicine clinic technician and event organizer. "When deployed, anything can happen. People might be doing things they have never experienced before and that's why this event is so important. Getting people the firsthand experience on certain tasks will prepare them for the future."
Representatives from public health, bioenvironmental, flight medicine, aeromedical staging flight, optometry, aerospace physiology, and theater preventive medicine guided each chalk through each training station.
Entomology Airmen from the 18th Civil Engineer Squadron also participated, delivering a pest management briefing and showcasing specific Okinawan vectors, such as the venomous habu snake.
Along with an up-close-look at local reptiles, participants learned about trapping mosquitos, sampling water, inspecting meals, applying self-aid and buddy care as well as coordinating with civil engineering members to make an effective site selection during the opening of a contingency airbase.
"People don't know that medical goes far beyond just being a medic," said Weber. "Medical personnel are the ones who help setup a new base. They configure it in a way to prevent injury and illness. That's why we wanted to get a realistic feel out in the Area One location. That place is the deep jungle and would challenge our abilities to perform."
"The sizable nature of Expeditionary medical support systems allows the Air Force to deploy small teams providing highly skilled medical care for a limited number of casualties," said Capt. Megan Martin, 18th AMDS public health flight commander. "If the mission requires, larger systems such as an Air Force Theater Hospital can be used to provide specialized medical care to a population of thousands."
While it's not every day preventative aerospace medicine Airmen set up a base from scratch, each participant went home knowing someday they may face this challenge.
"The training we conducted could definitely save future lives," said Weber. "It gives people experience and allows them to be comfortable in certain tasks. Staying up-to-date with these kinds of tasks will allow people to perform in a real situation as if it was second nature."