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Shaw Airmen take home fourth place in Medic Rodeo competition

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Meghan Hutton
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 20th Medical Group won fourth place in the annual Medic Rodeo competition at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Aug. 21-25, 2023.

The team consisted of four Shaw Airmen: U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Eric Austin, 20th Medical Group practice manager, Staff Sgt. Rhannieboy Espiritu, 609th Attack Squadron independent duty medical technician (IDMT), Senior Airman David Kiecksee, 20th Medical Group emergency medical technician, and Airman 1st Class Anthony Zamora, 20th Medical Group Public Health technician.

“It’s designed to showcase a whole team's ability to provide emergency lifesaving care in an austere environment or humanitarian disaster to show that a team of clinical folks and non-clinical folks can practice within their scope,” said Austin.

The team were tested in ten humanitarian-based disaster response scenarios, plus an austere environment exercise where the team acted as a medical evacuation contingent escorted by Air Force Deployed Aircraft Ground Response Element (DAGRE) teams. The players patrolled a mock village with simulated explosions and attacks, testing the team’s abilities to provide Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) under fire, before evacuating the casualties and administering prolonged casualty care.

The competition allowed non-clinical Air Force professionals to apply their TCCC training to simulated, war-time situations and learn from their clinical team members and the cadre evaluating them.

“I am TCCC Tier Two certified myself, so I can provide treatment up to a certain level,” said Austin. “Then we've got our IDMTs and paramedics on the team that can practice prolonged casualty care. To incorporate all of that within a team environment and also compete against other bases in a multitude of scenarios makes it a good opportunity to showcase all of our skills.”

The humanitarian-based disaster response scenarios were short, rapid-fire exercises lasting around ten minutes with a five-minute break to regroup before continuing into the next scenario.

“You would walk in the door and, boom, it's in front of you and you just have to work with what you see, which could be anything from a burn victim from an explosion to amputees or eye injuries,” said Austin.

All of the scenarios required the team to work under pressure in high-stress scenarios. These simulated environments ensured each team member was pushed to their mental and physical limit.

“You're being rushed and yelled at, experiencing very loud noises, and everything is an emergency; that's when you really get to see how you shine as a team and how well you complement each other as a team member, and as a team leader as well,” said Espiritu.

The Medic Rodeo wasn’t just helpful to develop medical professionals’ technical abilities, but also tested their airmanship, team-cohesion and leadership skills.

“I think anybody who goes to this competition will definitely learn a lot, not just specific to the competition itself, but learning about themselves and how they work with other people in high intensity, fast-paced team dynamics,” said Espiritu.

The competition supports the Medic-X initiative, a medical career field-specific initiative similar to the Air Force-wide Multi-Capable Airman (MCA) doctrine. MCA focuses on training Airmen on skills outside of their core competencies such as TCCC, M4 carbine weapons familiarization, and establishing defensive positions. The implementation of the MCA concept can reduce the number of Airmen put in harm's way to generate airpower as compared to traditional manning models.

“[The Medic Rodeo] can tie in with the Multi-Capable Airmen initiative because they're pulling Airmen from different sections of the medical group to experience emergency patient care,” said Espiritu. “One of my team members works in Public Health and usually that's not something that they would see taking care of their patients daily.”