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FORT McCOY, Wis. — The Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Medical Detachment hosted its 2016 U. S. Army Medical Department (AMEDD)-focused training weekend in conjunction with civilian first responders for Wisconsin Army National Guard medics across the state, May 7-8.

The Guard partnered with the University of Wisconsin through Operation Badger Medic — a collaborative partnership between the University of Wisconsin’s athletic training program and the Wisconsin National Guard — the Tomah Fire Department, Sparta Emergency Services, and the Fort McCoy Fire Department for the training.

The AMEDD-focused training included demonstrations by some of the University of Wisconsin staff on musculoskeletal injuries and prevention, domestic operations training, as well as the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 2016 Best Medic Competition. Pfc. Jared Ziehm, assigned to Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery, took home top honors as the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Medic of the Year.

sm160508-Z-AX240-065.jpgMaster Sgt. Richard Wilson, the Wisconsin Medical Detachment’s first sergeant, talked about the benefits of the AMEDD-focused training not only for the leadership, but for the Soldiers and the entire state.

“It gives the state surgeon and the AMEDD leadership the opportunity to get policy and procedure out across the state, to representatives from each unit so they can take it back to their units, so the whole state’s on board,” Wilson said.

“And it’s an opportunity for all the Soldiers,” he continued. “There’s a lot of transferring between units these days, and it give the Soldiers the opportunity to network. They can say, ‘What do you do on weekend training? This is what we do; maybe we can work together and come up with some training together?’ That’s happened. It’s a result of past AMEDD training. The medical assets in units have actually trained together more than they were before.”

Staff Sgt. Timothy Ehlers, the training noncommissioned officer with the Wisconsin Medical Detachment, shared Wilson’s sentiments and talked about the opportunities provided by the AMEDD-focused training.

sm160508-Z-AX240-032.jpg“It gives us an opportunity to get all of our medics together in one spot and all get on the same page,” Ehlers said. “We had the opportunity to build a program called Operation Badger Medic and this weekend was an opportunity to display some of the assets that we’ve obtained through that partnership with the university.”

“The focus of the leadership was to further our training on domestic operations, and to explore the opportunity to work with the Fort McCoy Fire Department, Tomah and Sparta as well,” Ehlers continued. “It also gives all of these medics an opportunity to see civilian careers that they can pursue back in their communities.”

Todd Swansby, the station chief for the Fort McCoy Fire Department, elaborated on the benefits of training with multiple agencies.

“Doing stuff like this makes it easier, because if there is a large-scale incident or natural disaster, these entities are all working together, and it makes everybody on both sides know how each agency works, and it makes it a little more comfortable,” Swansby said.

“I’ve learned in 22 years of being in the fire service, there’s never not a learning day,” he said. “You learn everything, everyday. We get just as much training out of this as the next person does.”

Training with civilian agencies is critical to ensuring the Wisconsin National Guard is ready to fulfill its mission as the state’s first military responder and serve the state in the event of an emergency. The experiences and training is also applicable to the National Guard when it deploys overseas as the Army’s primary combat reserve.

Wilson also spoke about the specific skills taught during the training weekend and their benefits for the entire state.

“For this weekend specifically, they’ve all seen the benefit of working with the University of Wisconsin and they’ve all seen those musculoskeletal techniques and learned skills about prevention,” Wilson said. “That’s our goal, to prevent further injury on training days, during annual training, and getting Soldiers back in the fight for training.”

Ehlers concluded by talking about how keeping Soldiers well-trained affects their civilian jobs as well.

“The chance to learn over this AMEDD-focused training will give medics some tools to get and keep their Soldiers healthy through the training weekend and prevent some of the lingering injuries that we have,” Ehlers said. “Overall, this training helps us send our Soldiers back healthier to their civilian jobs after the training weekend.”

Col. Rebecca Giese, commander of the Wisconsin Medical Detachment, said that planning for the AMEDD training next year is already underway.