Patriot Delta: an exercise in teamwork

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Beth Kobily
  • 911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Providing care to a simulated patient in the back of a C-130 Hercules, a bystander would think Staff Sgt. Tyler Port and Tech. Sgt. Brandi Seibel had been on the same crew for years, if not at least once before. Only the unit patches on the right sleeves of their flight suits gave away that their home bases were in different time zones, and you would need to talk to them to find out they had never flown in a plane with each other up until this flight.


Port, an aeromedical evacuation technician with the 911th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, and Seibel, an aeromedical evacuation technician with the 932nd AES, were participating in Patriot Delta. The training brought together AES members from four different bases, the 911th AW, the 349th Air Mobility Wing, the 932nd AW and the 908th AW, to train together for four days in March, 2017, at Travis Air Force Base, California.


“It was great training and a good learning opportunity,” said Seibel. “It brought all of the units that are going to be deploying at the same time together so we could get to know one another and it also gave our AEOT, which is our ground team, really good practice.”


One goal of Patriot Delta was to facilitate interaction between members of these four squadrons who deploy together. This was done using rainbow crews, or crews made up of members assigned to different bases.


Seibel, who has never deployed with an AES, said she was nervous at first to train with a rainbow crew. She expected the teamwork to be challenging when multiple people had different ways to accomplish the same task. She soon found out, however, that her team was eager to work together to get the mission done.


“I feel like our crew, from the beginning, just blended very well together,” said Seibel. “We took each other’s strengths and weaknesses and went from there.”


This was the second time Patriot Delta has taken place. The first time was held at the 911th AW, Pittsburgh, in July, 2016, prior to these bases’ most recent deployment cycle. Port was involved in the previous exercise before he deployed in 2016. Rather than deploying with strangers and learning how to work together on the spot, he found he knew most of his team and others he needed to interact with from the initial exercise.


“The same thing is going to happen here,” said Port. “We’re going to meet these people, and then whenever we actually get out in the field they’re not strangers. We already know them and we’ve spent three or four days with them.”


According to Lt. Col. Marsha Schuman, commander of the 911th AES, this unity was exactly what she had hoped would happen during Patriot Delta.


“It gives members an opportunity to meet and work with other folks, as well as ask questions,” said Schuman. “It gives them more confidence when they go out to deploy because here they’re in a controlled environment.”


Both Seibel and Port agreed: this training was a great learning opportunity for everyone involved.


“There were definitely things that every person does differently, whether we’re in the same unit or not,” said Port. “You could take ten technicians from Pittsburgh and we’re all going to do a task differently. It’s the same with the rainbow crew. I was flying with a flight examiner, a civilian physician’s assistant, a paramedic, a flight nurse who’s actually a civilian helicopter flight nurse, and a brand new flight nurse who has all kinds of critical care experience. So with that mix of people it was interesting to see what everybody brought to the table.”