JBER medical team practices disaster relief


by Whitney LB Miller

ANCHORAGE, JBER -  In 1964 the great Alaskan earthquake rocked the last frontier. On base Thursday hundreds of medical teams and first responders simulated the after affects of a large scale crisis like the 64 quake.

Amidst the screams and chaos medical teams at the on-base hospital went into crisis mode. Their mission; preserve life and property.

"were basically recreating the earthquake that happened fifty years ago and how military would be involved in receiving the casualties after such a catastrophe," said Sgt. Todd Rankin.

In their simulation the 9.3 scale earthquake has already hit and casualties are filling up the triage center fast.

"were actually exercising how we would see the patients and move them up to the ward and expand not only our everyday operations but to be able to accept on more casualties," said Rankin.

The exercises is so life-like medical personnel  at times were weary of letting us in. Each team wears a specific arm band on their uniform.

"This helps control some of that so we can identify some of our own personnel because they are all wearing the same uniform of which team they are involved in so you can best utilize them throughout the situation."

We were invited to scrub in with the surgeons who were prepping the most critical of patients. Broken limbs, exposed wounds and victims who were impaled with foreign objects.

In this scenario one of the hospitals buildings went down in the quake so surgeons had to perform amputations without any electricity.

"we learn from history and history has a way of repeating itself so we can take the lessons learned from fifty years ago and with modernization actually be better to react  to that type of situation and the more we practice the better we are for the real thing."

Rankin says it takes many hours to plan an event on such a large scale - but its the teamwork and the communication that makes this training a success.

Success for them means saving lives regardless of scale of the situation.