Moulage helps add realism to crisis exercises
By Staff Sgt. Austin M. May, 47th FTW Public Affairs
/ Published March 16, 2007
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.