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News | May 14, 2013

MEDEVAC Helicopters go above and beyond the horizon

By Maj. Angelic Dolan Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Joint Task Force-Bravo service members attached to 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment are providing medical evacuation support to the "Beyond the Horizon" humanitarian exercise, in El Salvador until June 22.

MEDEVAC helicopters primarily perform patient and casualty evacuations. MEDEVAC support is essential to the success of the humanitarian exercise because emergency situations are time sensitive in nature and dictate the need for an agile platform with the ability to fly in an array of environmental conditions.

"There are always risks associated with construction projects and JTF-Bravo is here to provide 24/7 air MEDEVAC support and general aviation support during the humanitarian exercise," said U.S. Army Capt. Fernando Martinez, officer in charge, "Beyond the Horizon" air support mission. "We have 12 landing zones for each work site, were we do not have a suitable landing zone we have the ability to hoist the patient to the helicopter. The engineering sites usually pose the higher risk due to the construction involved, to date we had one real-world MEDEVAC during this exercise, and it involved personnel from a vehicle rollover.

MEDEVAC's must respond in a timely manner and take the patients to the closest landing site near a hospital. The furthest landing zone by air is 25 minutes, while by ground it is more than two hours. If someone was seriously injured at the furthest construction site, it would take more than five hours to get them to the nearest medical facility by ground.

"If someone has a serious injury, you want to get them medical care within that initial golden hour," said 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regimental Commander, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Edward Mandril. "Air support is far superior to ground support in situations where you must dramatically cut reaction time, which is crucial in situations where every second counts, and logistically we can also provide medical supplies much more quickly."

Beyond the Horizon is an exercise that provides construction and medical assistance to rural underprivileged areas in El. Salvador. Joint Task Force-Jaguar service members, alongside partner nation personnel build schools, clinics, community centers, water wells and other quality of life enhancement facilities for the host nation.

"Beyond the Horizon 2013 in El Salvador is a mission that brings together five partner countries; Chile, United States, Canada, Colombia and El Salvador to conduct engineering, medical, dental and veterinary projects - we currently have built three schools and have the foundation in place for the fourth school, by the time the exercise is complete we will have encountered over 8,000 patients -- bringing a very positive and lasting benefit to the people of El Salvador," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Raymond Valas, Joint Task Force-Jaguar commander.