Accident scene simulation part of Exercise Shared Accord 2022 between the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and US military in KwaZulu-Natal
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 2022, 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 said.
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 ME 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 differen, 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.”
The South African Air Force has deployed an Agusta A109 Light Utility Helicopter to Richards Bay for Exercise Shared Accord currently underway between the US military and South African National Defence Force (SANDF). Captain Jacques de Vries reported that the A109 from 17 Squadron arrived in Richards Bay on 12 July 2022. The helicopter was piloted by Major M L Traut accompanied by Flight Engineer, Corporal H J Engelbrecht and flew from Air Force Base Swartkop in Pretoria to their penultimate stop at 121 South Africa Infantry Battalion (121 SAI Bn) in Mtubatuba before arriving at Richards Bay Airport.
The current edition of Exercise Shared Accord is being staged out of Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal and is a Multi-National Peace Support Operation (PSO) and Humanitarian Relief Exercise that is being conducted between the SANDF the US Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF).
The South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) is busy rolling out primary health care, dental, optometry and veterinary care to the local community for the exercise.
Around 700 military personnel, the bulk of 600 from the four SANDF services, are being deployed, while around 45 US personnel are in South Africa for the duration of the exercise.
Previous editions were successfully hosted in 2011 and 2013 out of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, and in 2017 at the South African Army Combat Training Centre in the Northern Cape.
The Exercise Shared Accord 2022 main effort is medical support to the local population and own forces, as well as military-specific drills.
The humanitarian component of this year’s Shared Accord has as its hub the Umhlathuze local municipality, which includes parts of Empangeni and Richards Bay. Eight clinics have been identified by military medics from both countries as sites where medical services will be available to local residents. These include ophthalmic and dental and are on offer from 5 July until 28 July when Shared Accord starts demobilising and returning to units.
On the tactical side, Shared Accord will see maritime force protection operations against conventional and asymmetric threats at sea and in harbours and air support operations to peace support operations (PSO) for landward forces. This, a source outside the SANDF told defenceWeb, will see handling air cargo destined for peace support operations taking place at Air Force Base (AFB) Bloemspruit, which shares runway facilities with Bram Fisher International, and Richards Bay airport on the northern KwaZulu-Natal coast.
Source: Defence Web