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Role players add realism to exercises, see 51 FW mission from ‘other’ side

Maj. Tim Harrelson, 51st Medical Operations Squadron, applies moulage July 25, 2012, to simulate a head and eye injury on Staff Sgt. Nicholas Little, 51st Maintenance Squadron.  Role players, like Little, add realism to mass casualty scenarios for self-aid buddy care and medical specialists.  Both are supporting the 51st Fighter Wing’s overall goal to “fight and win tonight.”  (Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Stuart Camp)

Maj. Tim Harrelson, 51st Medical Operations Squadron, applies moulage July 25, 2012, to simulate a head and eye injury on Staff Sgt. Nicholas Little, 51st Maintenance Squadron. Role players, like Little, add realism to mass casualty scenarios for self-aid buddy care and medical specialists. Both are supporting the 51st Fighter Wing’s overall goal to “fight and win tonight.” (Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Stuart Camp)

Transforming normally healthy Airmen into casualties and wounded requires a kit with appliques, makeup and prosthetics.  In the hands of specialists in the 51st Medical Group, this box of tricks presents a visual aid for realism in self-aid buddy care or medical treatment scenarios.  The 51st Fighter Wing at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, is evaluating its wartime readiness in exercise Beverly Midnight 12-03.  (Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Stuart Camp)

Transforming normally healthy Airmen into casualties and wounded requires a kit with appliques, makeup and prosthetics. In the hands of specialists in the 51st Medical Group, this box of tricks presents a visual aid for realism in self-aid buddy care or medical treatment scenarios. The 51st Fighter Wing at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, is evaluating its wartime readiness in exercise Beverly Midnight 12-03. (Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Stuart Camp)

A pair of security sentries use expedient measures to protect the simulated wounds of a role player following a mass casualty event July 25, 2012, during exercise Beverly Midnight 12-03 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea.  Role players are pulled from 51st Fighter Wing units for the duration of the exercise.  Some of them are so new to the base, they have yet to join their units.  (Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Raymond Mills)

A pair of security sentries use expedient measures to protect the simulated wounds of a role player following a mass casualty event July 25, 2012, during exercise Beverly Midnight 12-03 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. Role players are pulled from 51st Fighter Wing units for the duration of the exercise. Some of them are so new to the base, they have yet to join their units. (Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Raymond Mills)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Every story has two sides, and an operational readiness exercise offers a small number of people a perspective from the "other" side.

Most often, these role players play dead, dying or injured to add realism to the scenarios presented in the exercise. Each Airman is temporarily detailed to the 51st Fighter Wings exercise evaluation team for 12-hour shifts throughout the ORE.

In some instances - like Beverly Midnight 12-03, these role players haven't even in-processed into their units. The pool of role players comes from Airmen who are unable to participate in the exercise due to medical limiting conditions or new arrivals to the base.

Tech. Sgt. Damion Parris, a heavy equipment operator assigned to the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron, just arrived from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, for his second tour at Osan. Usually, he's moving barriers or assisting with crater repair.

"I didn't even know there were role players," he said, recalling his first tour here. "This makes it more realistic."

For the more serious events - say a bus crash or mass casualty event -- a team of specialists from the 51st Medical Group apply makeup and prosthetics to mimic injuries and wounds for evaluation of self-aid buddy care and medical staff treatments.

Add smoke, fake blood and acting by the role players and the scene is set.

"I've seen how the medical folks operate," Parris said. He added that this new perspective gave him a renewed confidence in medics' ability to save lives and treat injuries.

Another new transplant, 51st Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintainer Senior Airman Craig Galvin saw how the base receives follow-on forces. Twice during this ORE, he came through the Combat Catch reception.

"When you see the other side of situations, it will help you react differently," said Galvin, fresh from his transfer from Kadena. "(My old base) doesn't play like they do here."

Seeing different scenarios and participating in a myriad of processes, both role players expressed their biggest take away from this experience simply - know your job.

"Remember your muscle memory and you'll be all right," Parris said. "It's easy to get flustered in the heat of the moment."

Galvin added, "If you need help, ask for help or pull out your Airman's Manual."