An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | Oct. 31, 2023

New partnership enables critical training for New Hampshire Air National Guardsmen

By 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Beeping machines, quick footsteps, and rolling carts fill the Catholic Medical Center Emergency Department with a chaotic buzz. Among the flow of people and equipment, one airman from the 157th Medical Group kept pace with the nurses and paramedics bustling from room to room.

Aerospace medicine technician, Master Sgt. John McDowell, was completing his annual training requirements alongside CMC’s medical personnel in the ED and Intensive Care Unit in Manchester, New Hampshire, Oct. 9-13.

The opportunity was part of a new partnership that allows New Hampshire Air National Guard medics to hone their skills with patients in the hospital setting.

“It’s a training affiliation agreement,” said Maj. Michelle Mastrobattista, the medical administrative officer with the 157th MDG. “A method for training with industry partners to complete our critical requirements.”

The New Hampshire Air National Guard is one of only five other units in the country to create this type of partnership.

The agreement allows Guardsmen to follow patients from the beginning to end of their emergency care. Airmen are licensed by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians and can perform selected core tasks under the supervision of CMC’s medical staff.

“They are assigned four rooms with a nurse but if a trauma comes in or a cardiac arrest, they have one of our walkie talkies, the staff will pull him in to get the exposure,” said Kevin Drew, CMC’s director of emergency services.

The partnership provides airmen the ability to practice care with patients from different demographics while accomplishing 40 hours of their necessary training tasks.

In only one week at the hospital, McDowell saw patients aged newborn to 104 years old. He completed over 100 core tasks alongside the nurses and paramedics including blood draws, intravenous lines for medicine or fluids, electrocardiograms, and patient assessments.

“This is the first time New Hampshire has ever had this opportunity and we could not be more grateful for CMC to be our first partners,” Mastrobattista said. “This experience is far outside of what we can provide in a training environment on base. These are real people and real exposure to what our airmen may see if they are deployed.”

Mastrobattista said successful application of their technical skills is necessary in a deployed environment or natural disaster response, but now they do not have to travel far for the in-depth training.

“This is the shortest commute I have ever had,” said McDowell, who lives in Manchester. “Even though I am less than 10 minutes from home, being immersed in the culture here is my biggest take away for adapting in settings like this overseas.”

McDowell said having the muscle memory of this experience will help airmen incorporate faster into the pace of hospital teams when deployed.

Shadowing is also specific to each airman’s training needs. Every member is required to have 40 hours of shadowing and hands-on training annually.

“The flexibility in this partnership is just one of the huge benefits compared to group training,” said Master Sgt. Meghan O’Regan, an aerospace medic with the 157th Medical Group and training coordinator for the partnership. “Everyone from our newest medics to our most experienced will have a completely unique week tailored to honing their perishable skills.”

The hospital has worked with the New Hampshire National Guard in the past during pandemic relief missions and while setting up acute care centers across the state. Both teams said the partnership was an easy decision and well-worth the time and paperwork it took to make a reality.

“This collaboration and connection are beneficial for the hospital,” Drew said. “For me, this partnership is also personal.”

“I was a 19-year-old medic in the Army and had no skills,” Drew said. “Someone took the time to help me out and I was able to get to where I am today. Now both of my boys are in the military. I want to make sure we are passing on everything we can and doing as much as we can to support one another.”