By John Ingle, 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 03, 2006
SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE --
For a moment Sept. 14, the 882nd Training Group transformed into a comical setting reminiscent of the 4077th MASH unit in Korea.
Brig. Gen. Richard Devereaux, 82nd Training Wing commander, worked his way into the "operating room" during his orientation with the 882nd TRG to perform an appendectomy on an awaiting patient. The patient was draped in a sterile setting, with instruments laid neatly on a tray and the overhead lights illuminating the area.
"This is like ER," the general said as he was "gowning up" for the procedure. "This is incredibly realistic."
As he and his wife, Elizabeth, stepped up to receive some of the training Airmen in the 383rd Training Squadron receive, Maj. Holly Ginn, an instructor for the surgical services apprentice course, told Mrs. Devereaux there was a chair at the back of the room if someone started to feel a bit queasy because of the "blood."
"I'm the one," the general said, drawing laughter from the group in the room.
Although a comical tone was present, General Devereaux was impressed by the level of training Airmen receive at the squadron. The operating room next door gave a sort of eerie reminder of the reality of the medic's job when deployed.
The room was set up to resemble what an operating room in the sand of Iraq might look like. Fake blood covered most of the floor as gauzes, cloths and utensils were strewn about, creating the imagery of a scene of controlled chaos.
But, there was a method to the madness. Although the room was in a sort of disarray, the purpose was to initiate the general into the operating room setting and also to have Airmen use proper techniques when cleaning up in preparation for the next surgery.
That wasn't the general's only stop during his orientation to the group.
Master Sgt. Paul McCracken, an instructor at the 383rd TRS's independent duty medical technician course, was the first to introduce the general to training at the 882nd TRG. The sergeant gave the general and idea of the intensity of the course with a brief overview of what it takes to complete the course, including cramming college-level anatomy and physiology into two weeks of lecture.
General Devereaux also had an opportunity to provide artificial ventilation to a "patient" at the course, as well as see how students conduct physical exams, and lab testing in the field and monitor a patient.
Sergeant McCracken said a dry run is conducted when distinguished visitors are coming around to ensure staff and Airmen-in-Training alike are prepared.
"I don't think you guys need a dry run," General Devereaux said. "You guys have this down."
The general was also given the opportunity to train with one of the group's newest devices at the aerospace medicine course. The course received new Sim-mans, mannequins that respond to instructor inputs that Airmen have to correct during critical situations.
Master Sgt. Norwood Jamison, an instructor at the course, instructed General Devereaux on the type of heart rhythm the "patient" had and that he needed to be shocked to correct the rhythm. After a few instructions, the general was prepared to provide aid to the patient.
"I'm clear. You're clear. We're all clear," the general bellowed. "No one touch the bed."
In the blink of an eye, the general shocked the patient, waiting anxiously for a sign of recovery.
"C'mon," General Devereaux said as he stared at the flat line on the monitor. "C'mon."
Within a few seconds, the patient's heart rhythm returned to normal.
"You did a wonderful job," said instructor Tech. Sgt. Patrina Melson. "You saved our patient."
The general also paid a visit to the 382nd TRS's biomedical technician course. He was met by Staff Sgt. Kristoffer Bruce, an electronic principles course instructor.
Sergeant Bruce showed the general how they train members of all military branches basic electronics before they progress to advanced equipment. General Devereaux queried him on how long the course was and the type of feedback received from Airmen. That specific section was 19 days.
Army Staff Sgt. Derrick Bostic was the next member of the 382nd to show the general his area of expertise. Sergeant Bostic, an advance diagnostics instructor, explained that Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines learn the basics of trouble shooting medical equipment such as sonograms and X-ray machines in his course.
"We try not to focus on one piece of equipment," Sergeant Bostic said.
At the 381st TRS's dental lab, General Devereaux "gloved up" to learn some of the basic techniques in dental assisting with the help of Tech. Sgt. Rose Blankenship.
After learning the 90-10 percent technique and the four-handed dentistry transfer, the general looked up at four Airmen watching him.
"I'm glad I'm me and not you," the general quipped.
The last stop of the general's visit was the medical readiness flight's training site. General Devereaux was escorted on all-terrain vehicles through the site, viewing some of the various training tools used to teach medical personnel how to construct tents, care for patients in a field hospital setting and upload and download patients from military aircraft.
"This is a good reminder that Air Force medics train at Sheppard to be on the tip of the spear," the general said.