Ellsworth Airmen train with Local Army National Guard on helicopter medical evacuation procedures

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dylan Maher
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 28th Security Forces Squadron trained with the Rapid City Army National Guard, Oct. 11, 2023, learning how to transport, unload, and offload “litters” from HH-60M Black Hawks. The training allowed 28th SFS to become familiar with rotary winged aircraft as well as strength the bond with Joint Operations.

“Conducting joint training with the U.S. Army and other DoD branches is critical to the joint security environment,” said Master Sgt. Jacob Van Dyke, 28th Security Forces Squadron chief of weapons and tactics. “The MEDEVAC training today is just a sample of what is to come for the Security Forces career field.”

As the 28th SFS is trained in the procedures and precautions required for safeguarding aircraft and the flightline at Ellsworth, operating alongside rotary-wing aircraft requires a different mission set.

“A Defender, with little to no experience with rotary wing aircraft, tasked to transport his or her injured teammate on the battlefield may experience an increased level of stress,” said Van Dyke. “This training provides Defenders an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the aircraft in a psychologically safe environment before being exposed on the battlefield.”

With the joint training opportunity between 28th SFS and the Rapid City Army National Guard, the base Defenders were subjected to a new, yet vital aircraft and mission set: transporting “litters” to and from an HH-60M Black Hawk. The Army uses stretchers, commonly referred as litters, to transport injured patients.

The HH-60M Black Hawk is four-blade rotary aircraft, equipped with multiple mission sets: one of them being medical evacuations.

“With the helicopter blades running, verbal communication is difficult,” said Master Sgt. Greggory Holland, South Dakota Aviation Support Facility standardization instructor. “Hand and arm signals, following direction from crew members, and being aware of safety zones is crucial.”

Holland briefed the Airmen about the aircraft’s capabilities and safety procedures for entry and exit, He also demonstrated how to assemble the litters, secure patients to them, and how to hold the litters when transporting patients.

“This training certainly transfers to a deployed environment,” said Holland. “It becomes more natural with practice, so when Security Forces are tasked with assisting with medical evacuations downrange, these controlled exercises facilitate that process.”

Supplemental and hands-on training was provided by Sgt. Lydia Raderschadt, 189th Charlie Company critical care flight paramedic. Raderschadt was instrumental in the training, ensuring safe transfer of litters entering and exiting the helicopter cabin.

“Safety and confidence are top concerns of people being exposed to helicopters for the first time,” said Sgt Lydia Raderschadt, 189th Charlie Company critical care flight paramedic. “Having a controlled environment with trained staff to guide them through will build that exposure and improve their confidence.”

Although the 28th SFS training was conducted in a controlled environment, the lessons and techniques acquired from the experience will translate effectively into a deployed setting.

“These types of exercises are stepping-stones to our success,” said Maj. Alexander Parsons, 28th SFS commander. “By increasing our readiness and capability through these measures, our Defenders remain agile and well-equipped for the emerging threats that may come.”