Pararescue Prolonged Field Care Training Deep in Tahoe Winter
December 15, 2021
A group of Pararescue Specialists (PJs) from Air Force Units across the Western United States, come together each year in Lake Tahoe to train as they fight. Braving harsh temperatures and several feet of fresh snow, the Airmen utilize specially preserved cadavers and simulation mannequins to practice life-saving emergency medical interventions. The goal is simple, master one of the most challenging and deadly scenarios a medic will ever face, a prolonged field care mission.
Since the drawdown in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense is planning that the next generation of armed conflicts will be with "peer" or "near peer" adversaries. Due to the scale and ferocity of warfare with another modernized nation, the likelihood of battlefield air superiority is tenuous at best. Without freedom of movement, vital air assets will be unable to evacuate casualties as quickly as in previous wars.
Prolonged Field Care (PFC) is the doctrine created to address the realities of large-scale conflicts. PFC involves the care of critically injured or sick casualties typically managed in medical treatment facilities, to be handled for long periods in lower rolls of care or isolated personnel situations. This will require medics to have an even deeper understanding of complex life-saving procedures and patient monitoring over extended periods in austere environments. Warfighters nationwide are gearing up to implement this new methodology through life-like, immersive training into their mission sets.
Back in California, small teams of PJs congregate around their patient, a human cadaver, to hone their prehospital critical care skills. Human cadavers provide the highest fidelity training possible to our nation's warfighters, and enable them to operate on actual human anatomy. The realism and anatomical variation prepare them for high-stakes trauma medicine scenarios. The stakes are high; in real operational environments one misstep…one slip of the scalpel..and patients die. The unforgiving reality of trauma medicine necessitates a higher level of training. Skills and knowledge must be tested to save lives on the battlefield.
The students are broken up into small groups to ensure that each PJ gets hands-on experience and scenario challenges equally. The students first practice their prehospital critical care skills like cricothyrotomy, escharotomy, fasciotomy, chest tube placement, and needle decompression before moving on to scenario-based training. Highly experienced emergency room doctors design these scenarios to challenge the strategic medical thinking of the students they teach. Instructors regularly throw curveballs and complications into students' scenarios to encourage creative problem solving, a skill that saves lives on the battlefield.
The ability to train as you fight is a hallmark of the Special Operations mindset. No company delivers more life-like, realistic, scenario-based medical training than SimWerx. If your company or unit is interested in dramatically increasing its medical skills proficiency, please reach out to us to discuss your unique needs and requirements!