Vigorous Warrior 2019: the Aeronautica Militare protagonist in high-bio containment training

(To air Force)

Not only Ebola virus but also hemorrhagic fever, tuberculosis, Dengue fever and Monkeypox fever. There are several cases of highly infectious disease that require air transport in bio-containment. Operations of this type can save lives but the procedures are not simple and require exercises and training.

For this reason, the Italian Air Force, an excellence in bio-containment transports in the entire international scene, took part, in Romania, in the largest health exercise in NATO, the Vigorous Warrior 2019. In addition to military 2000 from more than 30 different nations: these are the numbers of the training event coordinated by the NATO Center of Excellence for Military Medicine in Budapest, which involved specialized health structures and land, air and naval rescue vehicles of different nations. The exercise was aimed at developing health support capabilities for military operations, both within NATO and the EU, including responding to possible epidemics or biological contamination in a civil and military context. Among the main objectives of Italy, which participated in the training event with the staff of theGeneral Inspectorate of Military Health (IGESAN) and of the Health Services of the Armed Forces, the acquisition of the necessary expertise in the organization to be able to host the 2021 edition of the exercise.

And it is precisely in the context of the Vigorous Warrior that the health exercise that simulated the transport in bio-containment of a soldier hit by a highly infectious disease during an operation abroad is part of the framework. The demonstration included the phases of coordination and planning of the mission, carried out by the Main Infirmary of Pratica di Mare as N-PECC (National Patient Evacuation and Coordination Center) for the EATC (European Air Transport Command). A C-130J of the 46 ^ Pisa air brigade has taken off from the military airport of Pratica di Mare carrying a team of the Air Force specialized in bio-containment and has reached the Romanian air base of Campia Turzii, where it took load the patient from a homologous English unit, for the subsequent return to Italy and hospitalization at the Spallanzani Hospital in Rome, one of the national reference centers for this kind of emergency. For the first time, as part of an international exercise, the ability to cooperate between military medical teams from different nations with a civil healthcare facility was tested simultaneously.

Such interventions are not aimed at military personnel only. The first real case of bio-containment transport dates back to 2006, in favor of a patient suffering from multi-resistant tuberculosis, followed by numerous other transports. The latest in terms of time involved two Emergency medical workers, both affected by the Ebola virus during their stay in Sierra Leone for a humanitarian mission.

The Italian Air Force, thanks to the experience gained in the sector starting from the 2005 and the special insulation stretchers supplied, is today among the leading international air forces in the field of high-bio-containment air transport. Exercises like the Vigorous Warrior they are important training opportunities to continue to guarantee the success of such complex operations.