AEPTEMBER 7, 2016, CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) – Air Force emergency medical technicians gathered to compete in the 9th annual Air Force Medical Service EMT Rodeo at Cannon Air Force Base Aug. 24-27.
The competition involved 24 EMT teams from across the Air Force, at both stateside and overseas installations, challenging one another for the title of the “best of the best.” Each team consisted of four Airmen who were scored collectively on their timeliness, technique and accurate decision making during multiple high-stress emergency scenarios both in-garrison and in a simulated deployed environment.
“The EMT Rodeo was designed to focus on those critical skills personified in our aerospace medical technicians,” said Lt. Col. Derek Larbie, 27th Special Operations Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander and EMT Rodeo project officer.
What began as a small base-wide competition among local Cannon AFB medics in 2007 steadily grew and in 2009, units from across the Air Force were invited to compete.
“In events like these, aspiring technicians prepare year-round for this Air Force-level competition,” said Staff Sgt. Carol Hubbard, EMT Rodeo project NCOIC. “Competitions such as these give our Airmen an opportunity to demonstrate their skills, while at the same time up-keeping their proficiency should they have to utilize their skills for a real-world situation at their home station.”
Some of the competition takes place at Melrose Air Force Range, an air-to-ground training site located 25 miles west of Cannon AFB and spans approximately 70,000 acres. In 2016, the EMT Rodeo planning committee increased the range’s role with a total of six scenarios, in a simulated deployed environment consisting of opposing forces, simulated smell of smoke grenades, ground-burst simulators, gunfire and more.
“The Rodeo demonstrated the importance of our Air Force medics and tested their capacity to deliver emergency medical treatment in a high-stress environment, with the overall expectation of enhancing emergency medical preparedness in theater and in-garrison,” said Lt. Gen. Mark A. Ediger, Air Force surgeon general.
For the first time in EMT Rodeo history, teams were airlifted to the range in a CV-22 Osprey from Cannon AFB, adding more realism and an opportunity for the EMTs to experience Air Force combat capabilities. At Cannon AFB, there were 17 scenarios medics had to navigate to demonstrate their skills.
Every medic that participated in the competition garnered about half of their annual requirements toward their national registry certification and EMT licensure.
After a grueling competition, the team from Eglin AFB, Florida, finished in first place, receiving a perfect score on the Commando Challenge — a scenario testing the physical and mental limits of the team in a simulated deployed location. Second place went to the team from Offutt AFB, Nebraska, and third place when to the team from Shaw AFB, South Carolina.