There are some things you can’t do virtually. That’s why Reserve Citizen Airmen from three wings gathered at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, in September for Operation Centennial Summit, an exercise focused on medical and aircraft maintenance training. The exercise also allowed sister airlift wings to build valuable relationships.
Reservists from the 932nd Airlift Wing, Scott AFB, Illinois, the 910th AW, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, and the 302nd AW at Peterson, joined forces for the training event.
Col. Glenn Collins, 932nd AW commander, spearheaded the flyaway learning opportunity to offer training during a time when many opportunities have been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Collins wanted to offer distant training opportunities for his Reservists while prioritizing the safety of the Airmen by implementing personal protective measures to the maximum extent practicable in order to minimize COVID-19 exposure.
Participants wore masks and practiced social distancing whenever possible during the exercise.
Lt. Col. Jennifer Mayer-Smith, 932nd Medical Squadron chief nurse, planned the flyaway training exercise to encourage team building and camaraderie, as well as skills training.
“The goal was to provide some job-specific training, offer cross-functional operations with our sister units and do some team building,” she said. “You learn a little about yourself and your team members, and you walk away with a sense of what you can do in a contested environment.”
During the exercise, Reservists practiced self-aid and buddy care, patient movement, mass casualty triage and collection, tent building, and aircraft maintenance.
Staff Sgt. Alexander Young, 932nd MDS diagnostics imaging technician, had the chance to work with a counterpart from the 910th MDS to give presentations twice daily on radiology and all areas of diagnostic imagery.
“Working with our sister units to plan the training was a unique challenge,” he said. “But the opportunity to work together and present was interesting. I was approached later with an invite to come to the 910th MDS and train some of their folks. The connections and bonds made during the week helped solidify the ties between the two wings.”
Staff Sgt. Lawrence Stout, 910th MDS aerospace medicine technician, said working with Reservists from other units was valuable, adding that the mass casualty triage training was especially beneficial.
“An added benefit was when the patient litter carrying training ended early and we were able to combine two groups together and see how those parts work independently of each other,” he said. “Having to make quick decisions on which patients to get out quickly or first was very beneficial.”
“Working as a blended unit and meeting the counterparts we would deploy with, knowing who would have your back, was one of the best parts for me,” said Senior Airman Abby Eccles, 932nd MDS medical technician. “Also working at a much higher elevation made patient movement a bigger challenge.”
Tech. Sgt. David Schallenberg, 932nd Maintenance Squadron C-40C hydraulic specialist, saw the exercise as a great opportunity to share his knowledge and learn about different maintenance practices.
“I feel this has been a great way to reconnect with our team members from the 932nd AW, but also step outside our comfort zones as we develop improved training plans for the next generation of hydraulic specialists and crew chiefs,” he said.
After the exercise was complete, Reservists walked away with several new contacts in their phones, a testament to the summit’s intent of bringing Airmen together from sister wings to work together and build lasting relationships.
“The opportunity to train with our sister wings allowed our team to accomplish essential training requirements and continue building on our resiliency and teamwork,” said Chief Master Sgt. Barbara Gilmore, 932nd AW command chief. #ReserveReady
(Parr is assigned to the 932nd AW public affairs office.) ■