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News | Jan. 9, 2015

Joint Task Force-Bravo learns principles of handling casualties

By Tech. Sgt. Heather Redman Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Service members assigned to Joint Task Force-Bravo attended a three-day course on proper handling of casualties.

"You always have to be prepared for the inevitable. The Mortuary Affairs Operations Familiarization Course is important because we may be called to do this job," said U.S. Army Capt. Mike Pratt, Medical Element officer in charge of preventative medicine.

Twelve personnel from various major subordinate commands stationed at Soto Cano Air Base, completed a mortuary affairs training course, Jan. 6-8. The class was taught by U.S. Army Master Sgt. Shavetta Wallace, U.S. Army South supply and services, in order to ensure designated members of the Task Force are properly trained in mortuary affairs.

"The overall goals for this course are to ensure the Mortuary Affairs officers that have been appointed by the JTF-Bravo commander are aware of their roles and responsibilities and also to afford them the opportunity to come to discuss what they would do if there was a casualty within the JTF-Bravo area of responsibility," said Wallace.

The training provided during the course ensures the proper handling, care, retrieval of remains and personal effects.

"This course is a U.S. Southern Command requirement.  Mortuary Affairs Operations Familiarization Course teaches the proper procedures and policies to recover the remains of a casualty as well as their personal affects," added Wallace. "In addition to having a Mortuary Affairs officer, each unit must also have a search and recovery team.  It doesn't matter what service you are in, each level of command is responsible for recovery operations." 

"By attending this course we are accountable for collection and protection of human remains.  With that comes the responsibility to ensure that our service members and DoD civilians are treated with dignity and respect that they deserve," stated U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Martina Chesonis, Joint Task Force-Bravo logistics officer.

The three-day course focused on preparing appointed mortuary affairs officers from each major subordinate command for their duties in the event of a casualty.

"This training is important to me because it prepares me for the unlikely event that I have to employ the skills I've acquired here.  It's key that we learn to do it properly so that we can show proper respect for the deceased," added Pratt.