Wednesday, March 25, 2015

SAREX: Navy, Coast Guard, Sentara conduct mock disaster training exercise

NORFOLK--It was a sight you just don't see every day. A Navy MH-53S Seahawk helicopter landing at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, at the pad normally reserved for Nightingale.

It was all part of a "SAREX" - a search and rescue exercise conducted by the Navy, the Coast Guard and Sentara, with an objective of honing the skills of the air crew members, and improving communications between the various agencies.

The scenario in this case, was that there was a "victim" out in the Chesapeake Bay. It was drill participants' mission to go out and find him, and deliver him to the Norfolk General Emergency Room for trauma care.

In all, there were five helicopters involved, plus two E-2-C Hawkeye fixed wing aircraft.

"It's absolutely a fantastic opportunity, and it's not something we get to do a lot," said LT Kevin Chaney, aircraft commander for HSC-7. "This is the best hospital within several hundred miles of here, so it's nice to come here and work with them and land here."

And it's not just the military which benefits. So do the civilian first responders. "We have about 1,200 landings here at Norfolk General alone a year," said Nightingale Flight Nurse Denise Baylous. "And so this gives us a lot of opportunity to safely communicate back and forth with each other and safely land aircraft."

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