Moulage helps add realism to crisis exercises

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Maj. Paula Winters, Family Medicine Flight commander, begins moulage on 2nd Lt. Ryan Depew, making him up to look as if he had minor injuries to his face.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Maj. Paula Winters, Family Medicine Flight commander, begins moulage on 2nd Lt. Ryan Depew, making him up to look as if he had minor injuries to his face. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Capt. John Weaver, 47th Medical Group readiness officer, details a faux injury involving a stick through the arm of 2nd Lt. Alan Hale.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Capt. John Weaver, 47th Medical Group readiness officer, details a faux injury involving a stick through the arm of 2nd Lt. Alan Hale. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Capt. John Weaver, 47th Medical Group readiness officer, begins preparing the site where a soda can would be imbedded in the stomach of 2nd Lt. Todd Mickel for an exercise involving a tornado.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Capt. John Weaver, 47th Medical Group readiness officer, begins preparing the site where a soda can would be imbedded in the stomach of 2nd Lt. Todd Mickel for an exercise involving a tornado. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Maj. Paula Winters, Family Medicine Flight commander, applies fake blood to the neck of 2nd Lt. Raymond Paterson, who has simulated shards of glass lodged in his flesh.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Maj. Paula Winters, Family Medicine Flight commander, applies fake blood to the neck of 2nd Lt. Raymond Paterson, who has simulated shards of glass lodged in his flesh. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Moulage kits, like the one pictured here, include everything necessary to simulate almost any kind of injury, from minor scratches to objects imbedded in flesh.  Moulage is used to realistically simulate injuries for training medical personnel.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Moulage kits, like the one pictured here, include everything necessary to simulate almost any kind of injury, from minor scratches to objects imbedded in flesh. Moulage is used to realistically simulate injuries for training medical personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Capt. John Weaver, 47th Medical Group readiness officer, applies a jelly-type simulated blood to an injury involving a soda can embedded in a victim’s abdomen.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Capt. John Weaver, 47th Medical Group readiness officer, applies a jelly-type simulated blood to an injury involving a soda can embedded in a victim’s abdomen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- With a soda can firmly “stuck” in his belly, 2nd Lt. Todd Mickel has blood drizzled down his leg and stomach by Capt. John Weaver, 47th Medical Group readiness officer.  The blood is allowed to drip freely to better simulate realistic blood-flow patterns.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- With a soda can firmly “stuck” in his belly, 2nd Lt. Todd Mickel has blood drizzled down his leg and stomach by Capt. John Weaver, 47th Medical Group readiness officer. The blood is allowed to drip freely to better simulate realistic blood-flow patterns. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Once a normal 2nd lieutenant, Eric Davison now represents the victim of a simulated tornado touch down near Outdoor Recreation with fragments of wood and glass lodged in his face and forehead.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Once a normal 2nd lieutenant, Eric Davison now represents the victim of a simulated tornado touch down near Outdoor Recreation with fragments of wood and glass lodged in his face and forehead. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- With a fake laceration to his forehead, 2nd Lt. Eric Davison waits for emergency personnel to respond to a simulated tornado touch down near Outdoor Recreation.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Amn Sara Csurilla)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- With a fake laceration to his forehead, 2nd Lt. Eric Davison waits for emergency personnel to respond to a simulated tornado touch down near Outdoor Recreation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amn Sara Csurilla)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Sticky with simulated blood, a soda can “protruding” from his belly, 2nd Lt. Todd Mickel lays helplessly awaiting medical attention during an exercise involving a simulated tornado touch down near Outdoor Recreation.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)
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LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Sticky with simulated blood, a soda can “protruding” from his belly, 2nd Lt. Todd Mickel lays helplessly awaiting medical attention during an exercise involving a simulated tornado touch down near Outdoor Recreation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Arguably, a real crisis situation with multiple casualties is not the ideal first place for an emergency responder to see various types of grisly injuries. To ensure medical personnel are ready for anything, they rely on moulage during training situations to give them the most realistic simulation possible.

Capt. John Weaver, 47th Medical Group, Medical Readiness Officer, said he learned moulage as an instructor at Expeditionary Medical Support training at Brooks-City Base in San Antonio.

Captain Weaver said he prefers to make the most realistic injuries as possible to ensure the training is effective.

The moulage "artist" uses a kit specially designed for this type of make-up applications. Captain Weaver said some kits are available ready-made, but the ones used by the 47th MDG were assembled in-house based on experience and the need to create more realistic wound simulations.

The severity of the mock injury determines difficulty and length of time it takes to put it together. Something as simple as scratches on the face can be done with a stick resembling a toothpick dipped in fake blood, while a soda can lodged in the abdomen requires several in-depth steps to complete. Some parts even have to be applied in the field.

Sometimes, if a wound requires lots of blood, it doesn't make sense to apply it ahead of time, Captain Weaver said. As the "victim" moves around in getting to the site of the simulated incident, the mock injuries could shift or the blood could dry up.

"You would just have to keep adding [blood]," Captain Weaver said.

In addition to conserving resources, applying fake blood at the scene is more realistic, because that's where the victim would have started bleeding.

"It gets a greater impact," Captain Weaver said. "The blood is going to be where the victim is. By applying blood at the scene, emergency responders can estimate the severity of the injury by looking at the blood on the ground, on the windshield or anywhere at the scene."

The captain said the amount of blood used in moulage is used to simulate actual blood loss.

"The more realistic the 'injury,' the better the training is for our first responders," he explained. "Our pilots fly sortie after sortie to perfect their skills. Well-done moulage allows all of our first responders (security forces, fire department, EMS, and clinic personnel) to get that same opportunity to perfect their skills."

"This allows for a more realistic scenario," he said. 

Maj. Robert Seifert, 47th Flying Training Wing planning, said realistic moulage increases value of Laughlin's exercise program by increasing the realism of the training.

"It gives our first responders the training they need to help them make the best decisions when seconds and minutes count," he said. "Moulage is one of the more visible examples of the realistic simulations produced by Laughlin's Exercise Evaluation Team to test the wing's readiness.

"For those base personnel who responded to the Major Accident Response Exercise simulating a Laughlin tornado strike Feb. 28, responders were confronted, not only with outstanding moulaged victims, but also had to deal with wrecked vehicles, a downed power line, smoke, victim's personal effects scattered about the scene and descriptive pictures of the simulated damage to base infrastructure."

Major Seifert said these simulations and many others like them help ensure Laughlin emergency response forces are ready for any real-world major accident and definitely the upcoming Operational Readiness Inspection.