Monday, December 18, 2017

NY Air Guard MQ-9 operators deploy to assist in fight against California fires

MQ-9 Takes Flight Over Central New York
Syracuse, NY – A remotely piloted MQ-9 Reaper operated by the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Attack Wing flies a routine training mission over Central New York on October 23, 2016. The California Air National Guard has been using MQ-9s as an eye-in-the-sky to help firefighters focus their efforts in fighthing the massive Thomas Fire. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Eric Miller/released)
Story by Eric Durr 
New York National Guard  

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- Nine members of the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Attack Wing have been dispatched to California to assist the California Air National Guard’s 163rd Attack Wing in flying MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft which have been assisting local authorities in fighting the massive Thomas Fire. 

The Airmen, who are based at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, are trained to fly and operate the MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft which is used by the military for surveillance and combat air patrol missions.

The California Air National Guard has been employing the MQ-9 as an eye-in-the-sky and supporting Cal Fire and other state agencies responding to the wildfires which have burned 234,000 acres and destroyed more than 1000 buildings. 

The New York Airmen will assist California Air Guardsmen who have been stretched thin during this additional domestic response operation. 

According to Col. Michael Smith, the commander of the 174th Attack Wing, “That’s a horrible incident they are dealing with and we’re glad to help in any way we can.”

"New Yorkers always help their neighbors in their time of need and I thank the members of 174th Attack Wing for representing the very best of the Empire State spirit as they assist our friends in California," New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said. "As California works day and night to stop these fires, New York is proud to provide reinforcements and the use of advanced technology to help identify where to dispatch firefighting efforts to end this tragic event."

The MQ-9s have been providing overhead video to fire managers using sensors that can see through smoke. The aircraft fly at high altitudes and are not effected by high winds which can keep helicopters from operating over fire areas. They also have the ability to loiter over a given area for over 14 hours. 

This ability to orbit continuously over a geographic area provides the incident commander a much clearer picture of the situation and enables them to make better response decisions. 

The wing deployed three MQ-9 pilots, three sensor operators – the Airmen responsible for operating the state of the art cameras and other sensor systems—and three imagery analysts on Dec. 13. The Airmen are due to return to New York on Dec. 22.

The 174th Attack Wing has been operating the MQ-9 since 2009. Unit members train U.S. Air Force and allied personnel in MQ-9 flight and maintenance operations. The wing’s Airmen also regularly fly MQ-9s on combat and training missions from a control center at Hancock Field.

This will be the first time the wing has deployed its MQ-9 resources in support of civil authorities.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sky Soldier medics always ready, uniform or not

Farm tractor accident in Austria where medics responded
The scene of an accident in Austria where medical personnel from the 173rd Airborne Brigade rendered assistance.
Story by Spc. Kyle Harvey
173rd Airborne Brigade 

Two United States Army Surgeons were first on the scene of a tragic accident on Highway B66 in western Austria, aiding a man in the fight for his life.
A farm tractor heading northbound on B66, a two-lane highway, attempted to turn left but overlooked the semi-truck that was traveling toward it in the on-coming lane and was struck head on.
The two United States Army Officers, Major Adrian Arnett, the Battalion Surgeon for the Brigade Support Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade and Major Andrew Galdi, the Senior Physician Assistant for the 173rd Airborne Brigade, were driving with their families near Feldbach, Austria on the morning of November 22nd when they came upon the crash.
Communicating to each other through hand held radios and quickly realizing that this event had just occurred, the two rushed to the aid of the victim.
“…there’s no question that we were going to get out and help…” said Maj. Arnett
The Army Doctors retrieved aid bags from their cars and ran to the mangled wreckage. Upon reaching the victim, Maj. Arnett found a pulse in the man’s neck while Maj. Galdi assessed his other injuries.
Observing the oil and gasoline leaking from the tractor, Maj. Galdi made the decision to cut the cloth door from the farm tractor in order to pull the man from the wreckage. A gnarled steering wheel and cab interior held onto the large man, forcing both of these Soldiers to muster all of their strength in order to pull him free.
“Once we layed him on his back, we checked him again, and he’s not breathing. His pulse was irregular and pretty faint,” said Maj. Arnett.
Discovering the victim was no longer breathing on his own and had lost consciousness, the 173rd Docs rapidly began chest compressions, as well as administered a breathing bag. To keep the man’s body oxygenated and blood flowing to his vital organs.
“We were using the basics of what you get from Bayonet First Responder or Combat Life Saver Class; how to stop Hemorrhages, how to maintain someone’s airway, just being familiar with that and practice with that. I think every soldier should have those skills in their arsenal, said Major Arnett.
Roughly 30 minutes into their rescue, first response Austrian Emergency Services arrived.
“They have a significant amount of equipment, but not the clearance to use it, so that’s where it was beneficial for us because we could use all the equipment without them having to take the time to call an Austrian doctor to the scene," said Major Arnett.
The Austrian Emergency Services provided them with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), an Oropharyngeal Airway (OPA), along with much needed fluids given to the patient.
Continuous chest compressions, defibrillation, and other Advanced Cardiac Life Support techniques were conducted for the next 15 minutes until the 69-year-old-man eventually passed. "We are always saddened when a patient passes, but are comforted that we provided hope where there was none".
It was later determined that the injuries sustained in the accident were to the severity that he could not be saved. This did not stop the 173rd Airborne Brigade surgeons from making every effort to save him, because this is what they are trained to do. “I think a lot of people probably drove by and thought I wish I could have done something, and I hope that when people have those skills and the ability to help, they put those into effect!” said Maj. Arnett
Majors Arnett and Galdi epitomized Personal Courage and Selfless Service, two of the Army’s Core Values, on this day.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade prides itself on training and maintaining the pinnacle of the Airborne Soldier no matter what the MOS marker on their ERB reads, from doctors to cooks and truck drivers to infantryman. This instance is a prime example of the doctors and medics in this brigade who are always ready to jump into the action with their counterparts and treat, with confidence, whatever may happen to those men and women under their care.
Maj. Galdi said, “What you carry on you, knowing the equipment, knowing how to use it, and knowing the indications when to use that equipment, and utilizing Bayonet First Responder which is our version of our CLS is going to prepare you for this”.
The Brigade cultivates a mentality of toughness and bravery which is highly respected by our NATO allies and feared by our foes. Training daily to keep war fighting skills sharp so that when the time comes, Sky Soldiers are prepared for any obstacle they will face. There’s not a mag pouch or drop of CLP a Sky Soldier takes for granted. These Paratroopers learn, train and maintain their arms and equipment to be constantly prepped for any occasion.


Santa visits Hohenfels’ tree lighting ceremony

Santa visits Hohenfels’ tree lighting ceremony
Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive with a little help from the Hohenfels Training Area's Fire Department on a snowy afternoon to assist with the Joint Multinational Readiness Center's Tree Lighting Ceremony Dec. 8, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. David Overson)
Story by Staff Sgt. David Overson
Joint Multinational Readiness Center 

HOHENFELS, Germany – Most children anxiously await the arrival of Santa on Christmas Eve. However, for the boys and girls living on or near the U.S. Army’s Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, Christmas came early. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived aboard a fire truck to help light the Joint Multinational Readiness Center’s community Christmas tree Dec. 8, 2017.

Santa also brought the proverbial, and literal “white Christmas” with him. It started heavily snowing while everyone awaited his arrival. Nevertheless, those in attendance waited with giant smiles and bated breath.

Hohenfels Fire Chief, Stoeckl Guenter, was more than happy to assist getting Santa and Mrs. Claus to the tree lighting ceremony.

“We received a call earlier in the afternoon by Santa,” said Guenter. “He was worried that he might be late and wanted to see if we could give him a ride. Obviously when Santa calls, you pick up the phone and do anything you can to help.”

Santa and Mrs. Claus were more than happy to help kick start the community’s holiday season.

“When I heard the Joint Multinational Readiness Center was having a tree lighting ceremony, I just knew I had to be here,” said Santa. “Mrs. Claus and I love spending time with U.S. Army Soldiers and their families. It’s also important to point out, that a true Army community also has civilian employees equally dedicated to the Army mission. Here in Hohenfels, I really see the Christmas spirit all around me.”

Though Santa was the star of the evening, there was plenty of other fun being enjoyed all around. A train was lighting smiles on all the smaller children’s faces as they rode until their hearts were content. The local Boy Scout troop, Troop 303, was selling Christmas trees, the local PTA group was in attendance and various vendors were selling hot chocolate, gluhwein, s’mores and other holiday goodies.

The Hohenfels Middle School/High School’s Choir entertained the crowd with wonderful seasonal songs, and one could see the tight community in full effect.

Mrs. Claus, adorned in her Christmas regalia, might have been nearly as popular as Santa was.

“I don’t get to travel with Kris on Christmas Eve,” said Mrs. Claus. “So every time there’s an opportunity like this I really enjoy tagging along. I just love visiting with all the happy children, and this community certainly has a lot of them.”

“As far as tree lighting ceremonies go, Hohenfels and the Joint Multinational Readiness Center did one heck of a job,” added Santa. “I’m not sure if I’ll see one better anywhere else this year. I’m just so proud of this community.”

Santa wanted everyone to know that though he arrived early in Hohenfels, Germany for this tree lighting ceremony, his regular deliveries will be on time.