Buckley hosts metro EMS training

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- More than 125 metro area paramedics, doctors and nurses converged recently on Buckley Air Force Base for the first time for a bi-annual emergency medical services conference.

The conference, which featured classroom instruction and practical, hands-on instruction, focused on mass casualty incidents and emergency medical services response to a national disaster.

"The conference was an opportunity to get top-level, first-rate training brought to the base, training that my emergency responders, medics and firefighters normally can't attend (because they're on shift) to help them be proficient in critical skills," said Deputy Fire Chief Dennis Hoke, paramedic and base EMS coordinator. "We had the chance to simulate situations that we don't normally get to practice."

"It's nice to see what's new in the EMS world," said Dan Gordon, an engineer and emergency medical technician here. "Buckley doesn't have to respond to many medical emergencies, so we got to see a lot more of the case scenarios (from the metro area)."

One of the developments that most impressed him was the use of a Nova Lung.

The device, which is powered by a person's blood pressure, is essentially an artificial lung, and replaces oxygen in the blood system by running blood from one femoral vessel through an oxygenator and then back into the other femoral vessel.

"It's no secret that a lot of civilian EMS is based on what the military has learned," said Dr. (Col.) William Pfeifer, an Army Reservist who has spent time at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. He was also impressed by the Nova Lung, which was developed by the Germans.

Although the device isn't approved by the Food and Drug Administration yet, American military doctors in Germany managed to get permission to use the technology for blast lung injuries. They used the Nova Lung on eight patients, as Dr. Pfeifer understands, all of whose lives were saved because of the simple device. Germans have seen similar results.

The conference also gives agencies involved in the National Response Plan a chance to troubleshoot problems.

We get the chance to work exercises together and to discuss lessons learned, Chief Hoke said, so we can provide the best emergency response by learning from others' experiences.
The National Response Plan outlines how the country will leverage local and regional services in response to a national disaster, whether a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina or some other event. It defines how resources will be allocated and moved so the country, under the guidance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, can respond appropriately to the disaster.

Chief Hoke also hopes that the training and exercises from the weekend will prepare base emergency responders for any potential disasters that might occur during the upcoming base air show.