Exercise Shared Accord 2022, currently underway between the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and US military, has a large medical focus, and part of this saw an accident scene simulation.
The accident scene simulation, at the uMhlathuze Multi Sports Complex in Richards Bay on Friday 15 July, was part of South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) Mission Readiness Training (MRT) and was carried out in collaboration with local KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Medical Services (EMS), reports Captain Jacques de Vries.
Successive days of theory transition into practical scenario events, and civilian and military health care professionals joined hands to become familiar with each other’s techniques and procedures when responding to accident scenes. This is building up to larger scale scenarios that lie ahead as part of Exercise Shared Accord 2022, de Vries wrote.
Paramedics and emergency medical services personnel are frequently among the first responding to and arriving at the scene of accidents. The quality of emergency medical care rendered there and the efficiency with which casualties are extracted for comprehensive medical care greatly improves chances of survival.
The South African Military Health Service’s Senior Staff Officer for Doctrine and Development, Colonel M E Pheko, was on hand during the Accident Scene Mission Readiness Training, and explained that the marrying up drills between the civilian and military partners were for the purposes of familiarisation with each other’s terminologies and approaches to emergency response at accident and incident scenes.
The simulated casualties of a motor vehicle accident were treated quickly and efficiently, because of the previous drilling in the counterparts’ own stages of casualty triage, trauma support, stabilisation and transportation for treatment so that their response was fluid and in sync. Explaining the importance of this approach, Pheko stated that “as the South African National Defence Force, we have our own way of doing things in terms of tactics, techniques, and procedures. The protocols for local and provincial Emergency Medical Services are different, and as a result, our two approaches must be merged in so-called marrying up drills that bring two diverse elements together, so that on the day of the exercise they are in agreement regarding what processes and terminologies they are going to use.”
Commenting on the experience of civilian and military health care practitioners cooperating on the scene, the scenario’s incident commander,K Sukreben, King Cetshwayo District Emergency Medical Services’ Sub-District Manager and District Disaster Coordinator, said that “The entire experience was very interesting, since we learned of just how differently we approach accidents and disaster response. The military has a Priority 1 and Priority 2-type triage levels system, while we have Red, Yellow and Green codes.”
While the two sides are overcoming the differences in their terminologies through working together to learn from each other, the common goal is that the patient comes first. Sukreben concluded by saying that the scenarios they were conducting “will go into another level of intensity when operational exercises with our military partners commence in days to come, and the KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Medical Services members are very much looking forward to participating in them.”