Operation Vapor Trails

The Texas Air National Guard participated in Operation Vapor Trails, a joint mass-casualty exercise  where mock-patients received advanced medical care while being evacuated by air, Oct. 19, 2022 at Kelly Airfield.

Operation Vapor Trails is an annual exercise that presents Airmen with real-life scenarios designed to train and educate personnel who use the Texas Air National Guard’s newest addition, the C-130J Super Hercules, to transport patients and medical personnel.

The Texas Air National Guard’s 136th Airlift partnered with the U.S. Air Force’s 59th Medical Wing for the exercise. Capt. Brian Mulkey from the 136th Airlift Wing and a C130 J Super Hercules pilot said that as a pilot, their mission is making sure that the plane is ready and able to fly equipment and medical staff in the event of a mass casualty.

“We are a team with multi-capable airmen, our pilots, loadmasters and crew chief together,” Mulkey said.  “We are doing what is required to do the mission. We work as a team, and a scenario like this lets us train with each other, and that helps us learn and work together.”

For this joint mass-casualty exercise, the flight crew and medical staff were briefed minutes prior to boarding the aircraft. The teams had to prepare for all necessary medical emergency requirements with limited time. Role players acting as patients were transported onto the aircraft while medical teams worked through multiple scenarios during the one-hour flight.

 “As Guard Members, we stand ready for emergencies like hurricanes and borders issues. As Texans and Airmen, we step up when needed. It is very fulfilling to be a Guard member to be called from our civilian jobs and come help out where needed,” Cpt. Mulkey said.

Operation Vapor Trails is designed to strengthen emergency response capabilities by training for an emergency with operations in multiple locations.

Mulkey said, “Even though this is just a simulation, as Texans, it is very fulfilling to be a Guard member  called from our civilian jobs and come help out where needed.”