During her Oct. 4 visit to Madigan Army Medical Center, Lt. Gen. Nadja West, the Army surgeon general, recognized Roy Ridgeway, lead simulation technician for Madigan Army Medical Center’s Andersen Simulation Center, for his work on this year’s residency capstone field training exercise in May.
“What we’re trying to do is give them a taste of what it’s like to be an Army doctor, not a doctor in the Army,” Ridgeway said.
Every year, a new graduating class of residents participate in the capstone exercise prior to graduation. It ensures the new doctors, who have spent most of their time in college, graduate medical education and a hospital setting get out of the classroom and the clinic to see medicine through a medic’s eyes.
“We want to familiarize them with what it’s like to be a medic,” Ridgeway said. “So when they receive a patient at the (battalion aid station) or the (forward surgical team facility), and the tourniquet is falling off, or this is down, well, now they understand why it’s not picture perfect when you get that patient.”
The capstone exercise has mirrored simulation itself. It has evolved and grown considerably over time. Just a few years ago, the event started as a simple simulation in a tent with a single mannequin with the directive to treat and move the patient and debrief afterward.
Since then, the event grew, initially by adding calling in a nine-line medical evacuation request — where medics ran up on patients at the point of injury and treated them — flight simulation through Madigan’s flight surgeon; then it added in-flight care as well.
This year, the capstone exercise saw its grandest presentation yet. The Washington Army National Guard activated the 66th Theater Aviation Command to prepare for and use Madigan’s capstone exercise as their annual training. They brought a mobile tactical operations center, Black Hawks, a Chinook and smaller helicopters.
“It was really cool because the docs got to see from point of injury all the way to a Role 4 (U.S.-based military hospital),” Ridgeway said. “It was amazing. Now this next year, they want to do more.”
The residents had to take a patient through the entire treatment process, call in a nine-line medevac and litter-carried them to the casualty collection point, all while taking simulated fire.
Once at the collection point, they had to retreat the patient, board the helicopter and resume treatment once inside and in the air. Though they had headsets, they had trouble hearing lung sounds and a patient talking because it is so loud.
The event also drew support and participation from the 62nd Medical Brigade and the Medical Simulation Training Center. In all, the event provided deployment readiness training for 70 active-duty residents, 40 active-duty nurses and eight Washington National Guard Soldiers.
The Andersen Simulation Center team, which has three areas of focus — trauma, pediatrics and hospital and team training — leaned on its collaboration skills to present the capstone exercise. It is accustomed to the heavy coordination this event required, according to Ridgeway.
Many people brought this exercise to life. At the forefront of the planning effort was Ridgeway.
A former active-duty flight medic himself, he has trained medics through assignments around the world to include with the United Nations. He is a certified health care simulation operations specialist and the most senior technician at any of the 10 Army simulation sites.
“Mr. Ridgeway’s leadership was crucial to the overall success of the mission,” wrote Lt. Col. (Dr.) Christine Vaccaro, medical director for the Andersen Simulation Center, in her justification for the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service Ridgeway was presented. “The capstone course was the first large-scale medical exercise to include a comprehensive overview of medical care in the deployed environment from point of injury to medevac to arrival at a Role Ill.
“Without his forward planning, the exercise would not have taken place. He was able to negotiate prior training silos and inspired cooperation that has never existed previously.”
Additionally, 25 military faculty and planners from Madigan’s Troop Battalion and Andersen Simulation Center civilian staff members, Troy Wilson and Thomas Phillips, and the National Guard’s Dr. Michael Braun were all recognized for their efforts in the exercise.
Also submitted for awards were Medical Simulation Training Center staff members Brian Huffstutter and Gerald Bickett.