Story by Capt. Joshuah Chastain
South Carolina National Guard
South Carolina has experienced its share of severe weather in the past few years including flooding, hurricanes, tornados, and ice storms. In order to encourage citizens to review their preparation plans in the event of another natural disaster, March 5-11, 2017 marks South Carolina Severe Weather and Flood Safety Week.
While citizens do their part to prepare, the South Carolina Army National Guard continuously trains to be ready to support the state if severe weather hits.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jessica Thibeau, C Company, 2nd Battalion, 238th Regiment critical care flight paramedic, attended training March 4-5, 2017, at McEntire Joint National Guard base in Eastover, South Carolina, where she instructed medics from Headquarters and Support Company (HSC), 351st Aviation Support Brigade (ASB), on medical evacuation procedures.
“We provided the unit a basic overview on the capabilities of the medevac UH-60 Black Hawk and showed them how to load and unload patients,” said Thibeau.
Thibeau, who supported multiple hiker rescues during the statewide flood response in 2015, and with firefighting operations on Pinnacle Mountain, stated it is important for the organization to be ready and provide those emergency services until additional services can get back on their feet.
During her instruction, the medics practiced loading mock patients onto a Black Hawk helicopter with the blades turning so they could experience the effects under the rotors of strong winds. Thibeau said it is important for them to see the difference under these conditions.
“The medics have to learn how to strap blankets and secure any lose items so they don’t get blown away,” said Thibeau. “This training went very well and I’m glad they were able to train under these realistic conditions before they begin their annual training with their entire unit.”
South Carolina Severe Weather and Flood Safety week reminds people that severe storms, tornadoes and flash floods are significant hazards in South Carolina and people need to take proper safety precautions and have a plan.
Thibeau, who is also a civilian firefighter, said that the more training the National Guard can do under realistic conditions, the better prepared they are to support if South Carolina faces a weather threat.
“We encourage people to constantly monitor the news and heed the warnings and advisories when there is potential for an emergency,” said Thibeau. “When people don’t listen, they not only put themselves in danger, but also the first responders’ lives in danger who may be called to go out and rescue them.”
Additional information about how South Carolinians can prepare for emergencies can be found on the South Carolina Emergency Management website at scemd.org.