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378th EMDS train for rapid heat injury response

  • Published
  • By MSgt Benjamin Wiseman
  • 378th AEW/PA

With the average temperature in the south Kingdom of Saudi Arabia being 113 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months, heat related injuries are the number one non-combative danger for all personnel deployed to the austere environment.

The 378th Expeditionary Medical Squadron and the 378th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron fire department, are working together to decrease response times to heat injuries; as well as, training to treat those injuries when they arise.

“Today, we exercised our Heat Injury, Rapid Cooldown Protocol,” said Maj. Henderson, 378th EMDS, emergency medical practitioner and exercise lead. “Rapid response to any heat injury is vital if the patient is to survive.”

“Given the environment and climate, heat injuries are the number one lethal situation for our Airmen as a non-combative injury.” Henderson continued. “I think our medics worked great with the 378th ECES fire department. They provided treatment, the ice bath and got the simulated patient to the medical center very fast.”

With several units conducting 24-hour operations, observation and response falls on all personnel assigned to base when it comes to recognizing and treating heat injuries.

“Everyone on base is a 1st responder when it comes to heat related illnesses,” said Lt. Col. Wagner, 378th EMDS, vice commander. “It is our job as military personnel to take care of one another.”

“If anyone notices heat related symptoms in their battle-buddy, they must react.  Delays in treating a heat related injury beyond 30 minutes decreases survivability to a coin-toss,” Wagner continued. “We have to stay vigilant and check on each other in this environment.”

Heat related injuries can occur anywhere, not just in Prince Sultan Air Base’s desert climate. If a coworker, friend, family member or even pet show the following: Fatigue, nausea, headache, excessive thirst muscle aches and cramps, weakness, confusion or anxiety, or drenching sweat, treat it as a heat related injury. Get water, and remove them from the heat. Provide cold fluids and loosen any constrictive clothing. If available, provide them with an ice towel or wet cloth and monitor progress.