INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --
A team of four struggles to crawl forward, clawing nails through sand, with one hand weighed down by a litter covered in sandbags. While the sun continued to beam down on them, the shouts of their comrades echoed to guide them through a minefield. Inch by inch, they pushed under several white strings until they cleared the final string.
As they arose from the ground still covered in sand, a cloud of dust followed the team during their final dash to transport their litter to an ambulance. A loud roar of cheering erupted as the team completed their final challenge of the Titan Medic Games.
“This was a fun and exciting way to learn about what medical personnel do,” said Staff Sgt. Samantha Field, 39th Medical Operations Squadron health promotions noncommissioned officer in charge. “These challenges are what we’re expected to do to accomplish the mission. It doesn’t have to be so serious like computer based training or mandatory classes. We wanted to make sure we’re relaying the skills in a fun way. We threw in some competition and got the squadrons involved so that everyone can have some pride in where they work.”
Squadron participants formed teams of five to ten members each. Teams faced seven challenges to test each of their skillsets. Challenges centered on various physical and mental medic-related challenges Airmen may face in a combat environment.
“The purpose of the first challenge was to transport injured members on a litter,” said Field. “We used several sandbags so people can feel as though they’re carrying an actual patient. The obstacle course simulated a combat environment. At the end, teams put the litter carry into an ambulance bus to complete the challenge.”
The following challenge was the Meals Ready to Eat challenge. After exerting energy by running to each challenge, each member selected and ate the proper nutritional products in an MRE to fuel their body and continue the mission.
Following the MRE challenge, teams were required to perform pull ups and box jumps while other members executed firefighter drags, fireman carries, two-man carries and standing drags.
After the carry challenge, teams went into the basement of the clinic, where they were covered with flour to simulate contamination and required to follow decontamination procedures. After running through cold showers, two members from each team were removed to serve in a later challenge as mock casualties.
The remaining members traversed a rock wall and completed a tire flipping challenge to retrieve their patients. Teams worked in unison to flip heavy tires that simulated debris in the way of rescuing their comrades.
Team members who were removed from the previous challenge were scattered across Freedom Park to serve as simulated casualties of a roadside bomb. Teams faced simulated sucking chest wounds and severe leg injuries that they had to treat.
In the final challenge, three members dove into the base pool to retrieve a dummy while the other members performed CPR on another dummy.
“The pool was the most difficult challenge for my team, and it’s not a skill everyone had,” said 1st Lt. Karen Salvaggio, 39th Operations Support Squadron airfield operations officer. “It was hard to coordinate while we were underwater. The challenge definitely built confidence. We don’t always do things like this as a team; it our teamwork and problem solving skills.”
The Titan Medic Games allowed participants were able to have fun, sweat and build camaraderie in a controlled sporting event to build confidence in SABC.
In a combat environment, a team may need to head out on another operation after retrieving injured wingmen, however, here they were able to unwind at Arkadas Park for a free meal from the USO as winners were announced in a closing ceremony.
The competition was won by the 39th Medical Support Squadron. Second place went to the 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, and the 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron came in at third place.
“We wanted to give others an inside look at what we do,” said Lt. Col. Sarah Evans, 39th MDOS commander. “Our job is not always about sitting in the office. There is a physical side to our mission. Hopefully, the success of the event and our hunger for competition drives the continuation of the Titan Medic Games for years to come.”