FORT POLK, La. — Heat can be deadly and those training at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Louisiana feel the effects daily.
When a Soldier goes down due to the intense climate conditions during a joint operational access exercise, it is up to Soldiers with the 602nd Area Support Medical Company, attached to 189th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, to get Soldiers transported swiftly and safely.
“The intent of the training was to do a hot and cold load portion, day and night, in the event that we have a medical evacuation from Fort Polk any time during the exercise,” said Sgt. Thomas Vail, a flight medic with the United States Army Air Ambulance Detachment, 5th Aviation Battalion, Operations Group for JRTC.
A cold load is when medical personnel load a casualty while the helicopter is off; a hot load is when the propellers are on. The Soldiers with 602nd ASMC trained on the light utility helicopter 72 Lakota, a helicopter that requires medical personnel to load at the rear of the helicopter instead of the side like their usual loading procedures onto a Black Hawk. The Black Hawk can hold up to six litters, a Lakota can only hold two.
“The difference between going into a Black Hawk and the Lakota is the confined space,” said 1st Sgt. James Brown, senior enlisted advisor for 602nd ASMC. “The tail end of the bird is really low and I need them to experience that. The average Soldier weighs about 280 pounds in full combat battle rattle so if you would put that Soldier on there, you have to modify your lift.”
The Soldiers also learned the capabilities the medical aircraft provides such as monitor capabilities for heart rate, blood pressure, electrocardiogram, defibrillator and hoist extraction.