By Staff Sgt. Jessica Smith, 18th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 31, 2018
U.S. Air Force Emergency Medical Technician Rodeo participants treat a medical dummy during a simulated medical emergency scenario at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Aug. 8, 2018. The simulated scenarios were given medical training dummies that helped enhance the immersion of the exercises. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)
Participants from the Emergency Medical Technician discuss during participating in a scenario at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Aug. 8, 2018. Teams across the Air Force challenged themselves in communication and knowledge of different simulated medical emergency situations.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)
Second Lieutenant Madeline Klasi, 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron formal training specialist, participates as the victim of a medical emergency during the Emergency Medical Technician Rodeo at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Aug. 8, 2018. Airmen across the Air Force trained at Cannon to maintain readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer/Released)
At the beginning of August, a team from Kadena Air Base, Japan, participated for the first time, and won the 11th annual Emergency Medical Technician Rodeo competition held at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.
The EMT Rodeo allows all major commands to put together a four-man team with a coach and compete in the three-day Air Force wide competition, giving 21 teams from across the world an opportunity to test their skills under a variety of medical emergency scenarios – whether it be home station or deployed environments.
While the competition itself can be a challenge, the team faced their own set of challenges well before they left for Cannon AFB. Kadena’s team was made up of three different squadrons and five different duty sections – none of the individuals had ever worked together.
“None of them worked together except in this instance,” explained Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Sharpe, 18th Medical Operations Squadron superintendent. “I don’t think they meant to pick people from different sections, it just happened that way and they just happened to all be really motivated to work together.”
Despite not knowing whether they would be the team sent to represent their MAJCOM, they still dedicated themselves to being the best and practiced with the mindset they’d be the team sent.
“We spent months training together for it,” said Airman 1st Class Chandler Breland, 18th Medical Group aerospace medical technician. “We put everything into it – we trained twice a week for six months – we went in there and pushed as hard as we could.”
Although the team practiced religiously, they were still unsure of what the competition would actually be like. Without knowing for certain what to expect, with the help of their coach, the team trained in as many scenarios they could think of.
“At the end of the day, we didn’t know what we were getting into so we prepared for everything that could’ve gone wrong – and we had a really good coach,” Breland said. “He made sure that we knew the little things that made our team stronger and more knowledgeable.”
From the pool to the fire station, the team spent an immense amount of time encouraging one another to be their best whether it was applied to mental health scenarios or traumas, they learned one another’s strengths and weaknesses for the betterment of the group, explained Senior Airman Tin Phan, 18th MDG flight operational medical technician.
Working so closely together for such a long time, the team created more than just a work related bond.
“We created a bond – the whole team … We came together,” Breland said. ““Throughout the whole thing we all learned a lot about each other. Yah, we got a trophy, but we also created really good friendship and brotherhood.
While some may think professional relationships need to be separated from personal ones, Phan believes it gave them an advantage.
“I think what really set us apart was that we overall really enjoyed each other’s company,” he said. “I think, compared to all the other teams, we were really good friends and that helped us as far as teamwork – we respected each other’s decisions.”
Not only did their friendship play a role in cohesiveness, but also in the trust they placed in one another.
“At certain times, we would be the leader of the team … Certain times we would be the follower – throughout the entire competition we knew the appropriate times to be the chief and the appropriate times to be the indian,” Breland explained. “There would be times where somebody else would take over and you would just have to listen to them.”
Coming away as the winner, the team still has the same mindset as when they went into the competition: they’re eager to absorb and excel from their experiences during the EMT Rodeo.
“It gave us a whole lot of things to work on and a whole lot of things to learn from,” Breland said. “It was so much fun, overall, we had a great time. It was an awesome experience.”
Regardless of whether or not they came out on top, the competition was meant to provide an opportunity to test and better Team Kadena’s skills – enabling mission readiness whenever called upon.
“We train the best we can, Air Force wide – everybody wants to know they’re operating the best they can in their career field to support the mission, so being able to do that competition is great – let’s go see how good we are and bring those experiences back; that’s the key,” Sharpe said. “Team Kadena is so proud of them and how well they did – it’s a great achievement.”