Angel Thunder uses simulated injuries to enhance training

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michael Washburn
  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Behind the Operation Snowbird building on D-M here Oct. 11, University of Arizona cadets are in bad shape. Almost all of them have serious looking bruises covering parts of their bodies. Some have cuts beneath their clothes resulting in torn uniforms and blood soaked shirts. The cadets look like extras for a new George Romero zombie movie.

But zombies, they are not. They're participating in this year's Operation Angel Thunder Personnel Recovery and Rescue exercise.

Operation Angel Thunder gives Airmen, University of Arizona Medical Center, local, state, federal and international agencies the opportunity to practice emergency response procedures and increase proficiency and efficiency in dealing with catastrophic events.

On the third day of the exercise, the PJ's will be practice responding to a mass-casualty scenario. The cadets will be dropped off in three different areas and Once there, they will play the part of casualties. The pararescuemen involved in the exercise will have to identify the injuries and apply the proper measures to bandage them up.

"We're moulaging the cadets," said Staff Sgt Derrick Sweat, 563rd Operations Support Squadron. "The cadets all carry a card with them that describes what injuries they have. I'm adding color to those areas to simulate bruising. We try and make it look as good as possible."

The cadets first have a face-paint like substance applied to the areas of injury. Red and purple are the color of choice to replicate bruising.

"Being able to apply more detail to the simulated wounds gives the training a livelier affect," Sergeant Sweat said, as he applies a bruise on a cadet's shoulder. "It puts things in perspective. This type of training is about as realistic as it gets."

Senior Airman Zachary Marker, 563rd OSS, works a second station where the cadets have other injuries applied to them. These fake injuries are more advanced than just bruises. Cuts, gashes, open wounds and bone protrusions are the decorations of choice. He uses gels and modeling wax to simulate blood and cuts.

"In order to do this, we had to take a course in Phoenix," Airman Marker said. "We wanted to learn these techniques for this particular exercise and future exercises to come."

In keeping the training as true to life as possible, the card the cadets carry that describes the type of injury they have also includes the level of pain they would be experiencing. A one out of 10 would perhaps be minor discomfort or very little pain, whereas 10 out of 10 would be excruciating.

"I have a laceration of the knee," said Brett Fiedler, University of Arizona cadet. "With my knee injured, I'm supposed to act out a little, like I'm in pain and worry about my family. This definitely gives an extra dimension to training. Having a person to work on instead of a dummy that's just going to lie there makes the training more true to life."