Upgraded readiness: 173rd MXG stocks upgraded mass-casualty first aid kits

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Maintenance Group

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has challenged organizations across the state to be ready—ready for a possible but, growing likelihood of a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake, for other natural disasters like flooding or a Tsunami—essentially for whatever comes our way.

The Oregon Air National Guard’s charter for emergency response in the state and the commander-in-chief’s challenge have units like the 173rd Fighter Wing looking for ways to improve overall readiness.

“It prompted us to have a look around the maintenance group and ask ourselves how we would fare if we had to respond to any type of mass-casualty event,” said Master Sgt. Michael Shirar, the Resource Advisor to the 173rd Maintenance Group. “One of the first things we noticed was that a lot of our first aid kits were antiquated and a lot of their contents had been expended over the years.”

Shirar went on to say that these old kits didn’t really suit the type of medical emergencies that today’s Airmen are preparing for. One such example is the aircraft crash at the Reno Air Races back in 2011. Several wing members who were there, responded to medical emergencies for 50-60 injured bystanders when shrapnel from the downed aircraft sprayed into the crowd of spectators. He said they reacted according to their military training but lacked medical supplies, especially ones to stop bleeding—using their shirts as makeshift bandages.

Shirar started searching for a better alternative to the current first aid kits and found a good option while traveling.

“I was recently at Andrews Air Force Base and I noticed that they had a mass-casualty, bleeding control station,” he said. “And it appeared to be exactly what we were looking for.”

Upon returning home he was able to coordinate funding for the items and now they are going up on walls throughout the maintenance group buildings.

The kits themselves are based on the IFAK, Individual First Aid Kit, which Airmen carry onto the battlefield while deployed. Each kit has eight, individual, hermetically-sealed IFAKs designed to staunch bleeding or open air ways and a collapsible litter. Additionally, Shirar coordinated the procurement of more Automatic External Defibrillator (AEDs), and is working with the maintenance group to have them located them next to fire extinguishers.

“The idea was a member wouldn’t have to run more than 100-yards to get to an AED or a bleeding control station,” said Shirar. “Now there are 11 AED stations, nine of which have a bleeding control station.”

Additionally they are looking at a larger purchase to add more stations around base beyond just the maintenance group.