PH, US air force lead drills for mass casualty evacuation
CLARK FREEPORT—More than 500 military personnel led by Philippine and US teams participated in drills simulating aerial evacuation in a mass casualty scenario in a former US air force base in Pampanga province.
Teams from the Philippine Air Force (PAF), United States Air Force (USAF) and contingents from other countries loaded people on stretchers into a USAF C-130 plane in a simulation of medevac during a volcanic eruption.
The rescue plane flew to Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu to simulate in-flight medical response and transfer of casualties.
The exercise was part of the week-long Pacific Airlift Rally, which the PAF co-hosted with the US Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) for the first time. It aims to enhance multilateral airlift training and interoperability between Indo-Pacific nations.
“Training in aeromedical evacuation response is very important because sometimes it’s the only way to reach the far-flung areas affected by disasters,” said Capt. Julian Argillas of the PAF.
“The Philippines is the epicenter of a lot of disasters,” he said.
“This is a reality we’re currently living in and it’s something that we practice everyday and we’re happy to share our best practices learned from dealing with real life problems in disaster response to other nations,” Argillas said.
Maj. Andre Bostic, of the PACAF, said it was important to train with partners to prepare them for future emergencies better.
“Working and sharing our ideas make all of us better and it makes us prepared as a team to respond when disasters happen. It’s better to build the relationships now for future disasters,” he said.
The drills involved 578 participants from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 109 from the USAF, and 92 others from Japan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Canada, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal Singapore, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste.
Maj. Gen. Virgilio Villanueva, a PAF C-130 pilot, said the PAF could send 578 men to the exercise because it was held in the Philippines.
“We have limited resources to send everybody to train overseas. But since it was held here, we could send more to learn from their counterparts,” said Villanueva.
Other activities at the week-long exercise involved flight training and other drills.
Villanueva said they trained to airdrop cargo in altitudes of as low as 500 feet using “low-cost” expendable parachutes for disaster-stricken areas without landing sites.