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Cannon hosts EMT rodeo

link U.S. Air Force photo: Staff Sgt. Whitney Amstutz

U.S. Air Force Emergency Medical Technicians crawl to cover during a simulated fire fight Sept. 12 at Melrose Air Force Range. The scenario, which was part of the Commando Challenge element of the EMT Rodeo, required participants to locate, treat and transport injured airmen in hostile conditions.

27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Ten teams of elite Emergency Medical Technicians from installations across the Air Force convened Sept. 12 and 13 at Cannon Air Force Base for two days of innovative, high-octane competition during the EMT Rodeo.

The seventh iteration of the rodeo required contenders to execute their lifesaving mission under greater pressure, fewer guidelines and more austere conditions than ever before.

Featuring five head-to-head rounds in each category of competition, the teams were required to demonstrate accurate technique and effective implementation, all under the critical eye of expert evaluators. Round one, the Commando Challenge, took place at Melrose Air Force Range.

“One of the components for EMT recertification is trauma assessment,” said Staff Sgt. Arturo Garcia, 27th Special Operations Medical Group NCO in charge of group education and training and EMT Rodeo chairman. “The objective of this year’s event is to incorporate the trauma assessment within a combat environment. We want to see our medics’ capabilities in extracting a patient safely from an unforgiving environment.”

“The range also allows both the cadre and the competitors to study competing medics’ performances during this specific scenario,” Garcia continued. “We purposely altered smells, sounds and visuals to see if the teams are mentally prepared to focus on the mission while maintaining their bearing.”

The second leg of competition, which took place in the base clinic, introduced scenarios ranging from obstetrics to cardiac distress, giving competitors the opportunity to showcase the breadth of their medical aptitude.

“These situations are chosen because they are general EMT scenarios,” said Staff Sgt. Alaina Kolesnik, 27 SOMDG executive assistant and EMT Rodeo vice chairwoman. “In addition to adding value to the realism of the rodeo, we get Continuing Education Units toward our National EMT licenses by doing them.”

The grand finale of the EMT Rodeo is split into two events which occur simultaneously: a simulated head-on collision and a simulated drowning. Upon arriving at the vehicle accident scene, medics had to ascertain what injuries had been sustained by passengers, then stabilize and safely remove them from the vehicle.

Across the street at the base pool, competitors rushed through the gates to discover a medical mannequin, weighing in excess of 125 pounds, completely submerged in several feet of water. After being rescued from the pool by two-man teams, a second pair of medics was charged with resuscitating the victim and administering care.

“When I rounded the corner and saw someone on the bottom of the pool, the first thing that entered my mind was restoring their ability to breathe,” said Staff Sgt. Emmerson Galupo, 633rd Medical Operations Squadron medic, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.

Fellow 633 MDOS paramedic, Staff Sgt. Casey Meeds, echoed Galupo’s sentiments.

“You have to focus on the ABCs of life: airway, breathing and circulation,” Meeds said. “During an intense situation like this, our training really kicks in and we are operating on auto-pilot. We spend hour after hour learning what response is appropriate in which situation and when it’s time to perform; that repetition really pays off.”

After two days and countless labor-intensive scenarios, Team Langley concluded the EMT Rodeo with a first place finish, with Cannon in second. Third place honors went to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, whose team also won the Commando Challenge.

“The EMT Rodeo allows these medics to demonstrate their ability to save lives in high pressure situations,” said Col. Jeffrey Gillen, 27 SOMDG commander. “These EMT Airmen train around the clock so that they’re prepared to support wounded members of our Air Force family both downrange and at home. This competition helps to instill a well-deserved sense of pride and accomplishment in our medics.”

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