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Air Force completes simulation exercise to airlift COVID-19 patients

The Tactical Operations Wing-Eastern Mindanao of the Philippine Air Force led the inter-agency collaborative simulation exercise aimed at establishing a common protocol in the air evacuation of COVID-19 patients, especially in remote areas.

Dubbed as “SIMEX COVID19 Davao,” the activity simulated the air evacuation of a wounded COVID19-positive patient from a remote location to the Southern Philippines Medical Center.

The patient was airlifted using the Super Huey II Air Ambulance of the 505th Search and Rescue Group of the Philippine Air Force. The chopper has a capacity of 11 passengers, including the pilots and crew, but can accommodate three litter patients.

The Huey also has a cruising speed of 90 knots, which means a travel time of 15 minutes between Tagum City and Davao City.

The simulation was conducted at the helicopter ramp of the Tactical Operations Wing at the old Davao airport in Barangay Sasa.

Col. Dennis Estrella, the TOW-EM commander, told TIMES that the activity is crucial since it fosters close collaboration among various stakeholders to maximize resources to implement the plan.

Estrella said the Philippine Air Force is committed to using its core competence to serve the public despite the great disruption brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The activity is in line also with one of the command thrusts of the commanding general of the PAF, Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes, who advocates taking the lead in delivering the desired outcome for joint, combined and inter-agency operations.

The activity was participated by various local government agencies and organizations, which have their own respective roles and contributions to save the patients and protect medical first responders.

The agencies include Central 911, Davao DART, Department of Health XI, Office of Civil Defense XI, Public Safety and Security Command Center, Task Force Davao, Camp Panacan Station Hospital, Southern Philippines Medical Center, and Civil Aviation Authority.

After the simulation exercise, Lt. Col. Alfred Antonio, the director of operations of TOW EastMin, gathered the inputs of all the participants and observers during the open forum. Meanwhile, Lt Col. Florante Baterina, commander of the Tactical Operation Group (TOG), assisted in ensuring the safe conduct of the ground and flying phases of the activity.


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