U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, CO, UNITED STATES –
The U.S. Air Force Academy’s 10th Medical Group bucked the competition to take home first place at the 2023 Medic Rodeo competition at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Aug. 21-25.
The four-person 10th MDG team saddled up to compete against 17 teams from across the Air Force to determine which medical team was best prepared to provide medical care in a combat environment.
Medic Rodeo teams are made up of a mix of administrative and clinical specialists. The 10th MDG Team was led by Capt. Sean Bundles, a Cadet Clinic administrator with the 10th Medical Group, and Master Sgt. Albert Santoscoy, the Cadet Medicine Plans and Operations Section chief for the 10th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron. Rounding out the winning team were Staff Sgt. Jessica Plooy, a medical technician with the 10th OMRS, and Senior Airman Olivia Beckner, a diagnostic imaging technician with the 10th Surgical Operations Squadron.
Over the four-day competition, competitors were challenged mentally and physically through Tactical Combat Casualty Care scenarios and physical challenges designed to test competitors’ ability respond to simulated scenarios they might encounter in a contingency environment. The TCCC scenarios were divided into three phases – Care Under Fire, Tactical Field Care and Prolonged Field Care.
“In the first phase of TCCC, we were immersed in a deployed scenario where we had to extract a patient while being shot at (with simulated ammunition), “Santoscoy said. “In Phase 2 we had to treat all life-threatening injuries while dealing with role players trying to interfere with our care. We then had to get our patient off site and transport them to the closest medical facility. And in the final phase of TCCC, we had to keep our patient alive and stabilize them for three hours.
Santoscoy said the entire scenario took approximately eight hours to complete.
On the third day of the competition, competitors navigated nine separate scenarios that tested their medical knowledge. Examples included: treatment of burn patients, car accidents, pediatric injuries, traumatic brain injuries, amputations, and mass casualties.
The final day of the competition was the “Air Commandos Challenge,” which was a fitness challenge that required quick medical interventions, body drags, and plenty of calisthenics, according to Santoscoy.
Santoscoy says the competition is a great way to validate readiness training while adding a bit of fun and friendly competition.
The competition also focused on the Air Force’s new Medical Service Initiative – Medic-X. The initiative requires medical staff members who aren’t normally involved in direct patient care to be proficient in a variety of medical skills to be able to better assist providers in providing combat casualty care.
As team leader, Bundles was an ideal candidate to put into practice the integration Medic Rodeo offered.
“As an Administrator, this competition was not in my wheelhouse,” Bundles said. “However, it did help me realize just how important every medic is to the fight. What happens when you have to treat patients without the facilities and supplies we are used to seeing every day? Medic Rodeo hones that perspective while incorporating the distractions we may also see in a near-peer conflict.”
Bundles also appreciated the opportunity to form a team and to see it develop.
The best part of the competition, by far, was our ability to quickly form a strong, professional relationship amongst each other and maintain it throughout the competition,” Bundles said. “One might assume that a Healthcare Administrator, a Paramedic, Radiology Technician and an Independent Duty Medical Technician would be a losing combination. It wasn’t. But more importantly, we proved that the Medic-X initiative of bringing multi-capable Airmen to the fight can absolutely be a successful way to achieve medical readiness and respond to emerging global threats.”
Col. Thomas Stamp, the 10th Medical Group commander, says that while they are extremely proud the 10th MDG team brought home the win, their main focus was on providing a means for valuable training and a platform to exercise those skills.
“The Medic Rodeo offers opportunities for the participants to learn, practice and hone valuable skills for the deployed environment, as well as local contingency operations,” Stamp said. “Their participation, however, has much a much broader reach. The team’s training reinforces to other medics at the 10th MDG (and around the Air Force Medical Service) the vital nature of wartime medical skills. It is also a reminder for why we wear the uniform and why we serve.
“By all accounts, the team had a great experience at Cannon AFB, and coming away with some hardware is a huge bonus. Hats off to the 27th Special Operations Medical Group for organizing and executing a world-class event.”