A medical unit from the Texas National Guard participated in the Joint Medical Exercise-23 June 5-9, 2023 at Fort Cavazos, an annual event that aims to train Soldiers and civilians in life saving procedures from the point of injury all the way to major trauma centers.
The medical platoon from the 3/278 Armored Cavalry Regiment, a Tennessee National Guard unit that is commanded by the Texas National Guard’s 36th Infantry division, brought 23 Soldiers to the exercise that drew over 2000 medical professionals and helicopter pilots from around the world.
JMEX-23 was designed to take a patient from the point of injury on the battle field, through all four roles of medical care. Newly minted doctors in residency and new 68W combat medics rotate through each role, working patients in each level of care.
The Soldiers from the 3/278 were responsible for Role 1 battalion aid station.
“Our job here is to stabilize them so we can get them to definitive care, or surgery,” said Staff Sgt. Colin Keenan, the medical platoon sergeant for the unit. “We are here to stabilize them so we can get them to a Role 2, and eventually to a role 3 and 4 if needed.”
While the army has trained each of the Guard soldiers as combat medics or physicians assistants, many of them have medical careers external to the Guard. Keenan said that some of his platoon are on an ambulance nearly every day. That kind of experience is something you only find in the National Guard, according to Keenan, a former active duty Soldier.
“Out of our platoon, we have five or six paramedics and another four or five EMTs or people that work in hospitals or labs,” Keenan said. “An active duty soldier might not touch a real patient for a long time, where my guys are going on calls all the time and using those skill sets.”
The group of medics from Texas also has a physician’s assistant with them, who supervises the advanced care the Soldiers can give in the field. He said that the unit brings a unique set of skills.
“We have the ability to stabilize the patient for 24 hours in the field,” said Maj. Tomas Palacios. “We also have the ability to do a walking blood bank. It’s like taking them to the emergency room, without the hospital.”
The walking blood bank allows the medics with the 3/278 to get blood, on the spot, from other soldiers, to give it to patients who critically need the blood as a life-saving measure at the battalion aid station.
As part of the event, Navy Lt. Victoria Kay, an emergency medicine resident at Navy Medical Center San Diego, treated a notional trauma patient with the Texas Guardsmen.
“This is arguably the best setup out here,” Kay said. “We have run several training lanes and it has been impressive to work with the individual Guardsmen. They are very well trained and very motivated.”