Operation AGILE Medic: Joint Forces Collaborate in Full-Spectrum Medical Readiness exercise Published Feb. 6, 2024 By Staff Sgt. Kelsey Martinez JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-CAMP BULLIS, Texas -- In early December 2023, military personnel from the Air Force, Army, and Marines joined forces for Operation AGILE Medic at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas. The exercise united more than 100 physicians, nurses, medics, and support staff who collaborated in various medical components, including Point-of-Injury / Care Under Fire, Ground Surgical Teams, Expeditionary Medical Support, En Route Patient Staging System, Aeromedical Evacuation, and Critical Care Air Transport Teams. The synergy of multiple functions in this exercise facilitated the identification of critical elements such as cross-communication, interoperability, health care delivery, and training gaps. By addressing these aspects, the participants were able to enhance their individual preparedness as well as discover opportunities to support each other across various healthcare aspects. "Early exposure to full-spectrum military medicine is crucial for effective mission readiness," said Col. Luis Berrios, exercise director. "Providing this knowledge and experience is imperative to ensure confidence and readiness when faced with rapid deployment timelines." As a commander, Berrios observed that less-experienced personnel might not fully grasp their role in Air Force medicine. Exercises like these offer valuable experience and help individuals recognize their significant contributions. "The immersive nature of these exercises allows participants to gain a profound understanding of their roles during deployment and are crucial in preparing individuals for the challenges they may face in real-world scenarios," he said. "Regular conduct of these exercises is vital for continuous readiness." 231206-F-OG981-2469 U.S. Air Force Airmen, actively participating in Operation AGILE Medic, a week-long joint service readiness exercise, evaluate the condition of a simulated patient in critical care within the Expeditionary Medical Support facilities (EMEDS) during a dynamic readiness exercise on Dec. 6, 2023, at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas. EMEDS provides initial medical resources, tents, and life-saving capabilities, covering patient stabilization and surgical procedures. This modular, scalable, and rapid-response medical package proves invaluable for addressing the challenges of humanitarian relief, wartime contingencies, and disaster response operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Martinez) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res 231205-F-OG981-1172 U.S. Air Force Airmen actively participating in Operation AGILE Medic, a week-long joint service readiness exercise, use gauze to control bleeding on a high-fidelity mannequin at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas, Dec. 4, 2023. Following the TCCC (Tactical Combat Casualty Care) approach, trainers employ the mnemonic "MARCH" to guide service members through a strategic sequence of care, significantly improving the chances of survival for wounded personnel. The five critical skills associated with TCCC include 'M' for massive bleeding, 'A' for airway and resuscitation, 'R' for respiration, 'C' for circulation, and 'H' for hypothermia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Martinez) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res 231204-F-OG981-1810 U.S. Air Force Airmen, actively involved in Operation AGILE Medic, a week-long joint service readiness exercise, perform a litter carry transport for a patient from a tactical high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV) ambulance on the flight line, Dec. 4, 2023. Prioritizing efficiency, the Emergency Evacuation Litter (EEL) stands as a lightweight and compact solution, guaranteeing a swift and secure casualty evacuation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Martinez) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res 231204-F-OG981-1320 A U.S. Air Force Airman secures a patient restraint strap on a high-fidelity mannequin, ensuring a smooth transition from the Expeditionary Medical Support unit to the En Route Patient Staging System team at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Dec. 4, 2023. Camp Bullis not only serves as a vital hub for base operations but also boasts dedicated instructors providing ongoing training support to mission partners at Joint Base San Antonio. This commitment ensures the continual fulfillment of both operational and institutional training requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Martinez) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Stress is deliberately introduced during exercises to foster critical thinking and adaptability under pressure. For individuals in roles requiring specific medical skills, consistent practice becomes paramount. Regular skill reinforcement prepares service members to deploy effectively, allowing seamless execution of tasks in a real-world environment. "By challenging individuals to think outside the box, we aim to provide them with a solid foundation," emphasized Berrios. "This ensures that when they are deployed, they possess the skills and mindset needed to navigate high-pressure scenarios effectively." Being a 'ready medic' signifies comprehensive preparedness to serve as combat-ready healthcare professionals. This readiness is achieved through core training and supplemented with additional training modules. "Participants displayed high motivation and sustained engagement throughout the exercise," he said. "We adopted a phased approach - crawl, walk, and run - to guide them through the intricacies of their roles." During the crawl phase, the focus was on imparting the essential knowledge needed for their respective responsibilities. Progressing into the walk phase introduced more challenges, gradually pushing the boundaries of capabilities. By the time we reached the run phase, participants were exposed to complex scenarios, testing their ability to respond under stress explained Berrios. "It was fascinating to witness the progression throughout the exercise…participants not only embraced the challenges but also demonstrated remarkable adaptability and problem-solving skills," he shared. "This collective attitude of adaptation, overcoming obstacles, and maintaining high morale was a testament to the effectiveness of the training approach and the dedication of each participant." Senior Airman Canon Moore, an administrative technician and sole representative from the 59th Medical Specialty squadron, shared insights from the Patient Administration Division (PAD). "In PAD, we collaborate with Command Control, overseeing patient movements and ensuring a comprehensive understanding of their status within our facility," Moore explained. "Our close partnership with Emergency Response Personnel allows us to anticipate incoming patient numbers and receive timely updates on their estimated time of arrival." 231204-F-OG981-1404 A U.S. Air Force Airman, serving as an instructor with the 59th Training Group at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, gazes back as patients are loaded onto a C-130 Hercules on the flight line, Dec. 4, 2023. Beyond being a crucial hub for base operations, Camp Bullis takes pride in its cadre of devoted instructors who consistently deliver essential training support to mission partners at Joint Base San Antonio. This unwavering commitment plays a pivotal role in meeting the ongoing operational and institutional training requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Martinez) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res 231204-F-OG981-1421 A U.S. Air Force Airman, an instructor with the 59th Training Group at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, works alongside an Operation AGILE Medic participant, holding a litter while awaiting commands for safe patient transport aboard a C-130 Hercules on the flight line, Dec. 4, 2023. Highlighting efficiency, the Emergency Evacuation Litter (EEL) offers a lightweight and compact solution, guaranteeing swift and secure casualty evacuation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Martinez) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res 231207-F-OG981-1937 Members of the U.S. Air Force Critical Care Air Transport Team (CCATT) monitor the status of a simulated patient en route during Operation AGILE Medic, a week-long joint service readiness exercise at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas, Dec. 7, 2023. The CCATT is a specialized three-person medical team comprising a physician with expertise in critical care or emergency medicine, a critical care nurse, and a respiratory therapist. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Martinez) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res 231205-F-OG981-1912 U.S. Air Force Airmen execute a four-person litter carry approach to a UH-60 Blackhawk, transporting a high-fidelity mannequin patient during the Operation AGILE Medic exercise at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas, Dec. 5, 2023. This joint force medical training exercise immerses Tri-Service medics in the seamless process of transporting patients from the Expeditionary Medical Support unit to the En Route Patient Staging System team, and further to Air Evacuation and Critical Care Air Transport Teams, and vice versa. The hands-on experience ensures medics acquire a comprehensive understanding of communication protocols, the critical timing for patient preparation, and the intricacies of the entire process. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Martinez) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Operation AGILE Medic's scenarios mirror challenges in operational environments, preparing medical personnel for the unpredictable nature of their duties. "It was rewarding for us to showcase the active and pivotal role we play," said Moore, highlighting the significance of their contributions beyond paperwork and computer screens. "The collaboration with other units emphasized the importance of our role, especially when sought for expertise in patient care and movement." Moore emphasized the training's eye-opening nature, fostering a collaborative environment and enhancing teamwork and camaraderie. OAM's scenarios are meticulously crafted to mirror the challenges encountered in operational environments. This realism prepares medical personnel for the unpredictable nature of their duties. "Working in a hospital provides a sense of familiarity; however, in the deployed environment we experienced, organization was not a given," said Moore. "This stark contrast served as a valuable lesson, emphasizing the importance of preparation, adaptability, and resiliency." This collaborative endeavor not only strengthened the participants' capabilities but also underscored the importance of unified efforts in achieving a heightened state of mission readiness. "It was rewarding for us to showcase the active and pivotal role we play," said Moore, highlighting the significance of their contributions beyond paperwork and computer screens. The emphasis extended beyond individual tasks to cultivate multi-capable Airmen - individuals capable of seamlessly stepping into various roles, ensuring mission continuity. "The camaraderie formed during the exercise was truly exceptional. Despite being strangers initially, we left as a close-knit group of friends” he shared. “Knowing that I can trust them with my responsibilities, just as they can trust me with theirs, is invaluable."