Aviation Conducts Domestic Operations Training
Hurricane Irene affected many states on the East Coast including Vermont in
2011. The storm caused flooding and was responsible for an estimated $6.5
billion in total losses in the United States according to the National Weather Service. The National Guard was prepared for the disaster, and in response thousands of National Guard Soldiers and Airmen swiftly mobilized to support civilian authorities.
The Vermont National Guard will host "Vigilant Guard - Vermont 2016" at Camp
Johnson, Colchester, Vermont. It is a national level emergency response
exercise sponsored by the National Guard and United States Northern
Command. Federal, state, and local agencies will train together to improve
cooperation and prepare to respond to a man-made or natural disaster, special
event or other domestic emergency in a collaborative effort.
To prepare, Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment (Air
Ambulance) started conducting Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA)
missions from the Army Aviation Support Facility, South Burlington, Vt., April 2,
The DSCA training involved lowering a medic on a hoist to assist a crashed pilot,
raising the casualty into the aircraft with the hoist, and responding to a mass
casualty scenario with other medevacs.
“We're doing aerial medevac DSCA training in preparation for Vigilant Guard,“
said Capt. James Lewandowski, forward support medevac platoon leader, C/3-
126th AVN (AA).
The unit will participate in faster versions of the simulated missions during
"We're practicing, working out the bugs, perfecting our techniques, so that when
we do the real DSCA mission and perform with the rest of the state, all of our
operating procedures are solid, and we have a good battle rhythm," said
The company is taking an approach that builds up to the main event. "We're
using the crawl-walk-run method," said Lewandowski. The first phase, crawl, is
receiving basic training on operations.
"Crawl means we go very slowly, an instructor will teach and show how
something is done," said Sgt. Carlton Quenneville, crew chief, C/3-126th AVN
The next phase, which they conducted over the weekend, is walking. This part of
the method requires utilizing what they learned in the crawl phase. "Most of the
training we do is the walk phase where we're trying to show all those new things,"
said Quenneville. "Today is the culmination, actually showing all the stuff we've
learned and done, putting it into action, and actually doing what we've trained
From that phase, they will progress to a quicker, full speed pace. "The run phase
is the big exercises like our annual training or Vigilant Guard where we've
combined with the ground guys, other states, and other agencies, with multiple
sites going at once," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Couture, line medevac
pilot, C/3-126th AVN (AA).
Their training, in the walking phase, had an emphasis on accuracy as opposed to
speed."There is more deliberate planning, teaching us to slow down and go
assist in a non-combat area," said Couture.
Following the procedures carefully highlights any difficulty the crew may have
with the aircraft or operations. "We definitely found areas that stumped us a little
bit or were unique situations, but every mission is a unique situation. There are
no two missions alike," said Quenneville. "By doing it today, we were able to
keep our proficiency up and actually work as a team."
The teamwork extends outside the scope of the crew of a single helicopter to all
the units as one. "This has given us the opportunity to do a lot of flying and really
perfecting our skillsets and practice as a team," said Lewandowski. "There is
nothing better than collective training."
The crawl-walk-run approach by the aviation unit has proven a success with the
training running smoothly and missions being achieved. "It went very well,
everyone was safe, and we were able to get the mission accomplished," said