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Adventure Race a Rewarding Challange

December 2008 -- For Tech. Sgt. Tim McCormick, 180th Fighter Wing Security Forces Specialist, hiking the trails at Pickney State Park in Pickney, Michigan is a familiar outing. He and Lt. Col. Todd Audet, 200th Red Horse, had hiked the approximately 15 miles frequently throughout the years with relative ease. However, on October 11, 2008, the hike was more of a sprint, and was peppered with obstacles that even seasoned emergency personnel would find difficult. McCormick, his brother John and Audet participated in MedWar, a non-profit organization that sets up medical adventure races across the country. Teams navigate to different scenarios on foot or by canoe to test their skills and techniques as first responders in a wilderness setting. 

"We get a mix of medical students, faculty and some non-medical people who need to learn to respond quickly in an outdoor setting to a wide array of emergencies," said Dr. David Ledrick, faculty member at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, Toledo, Ohio, and MedWar race director. "Your team was the only military team this year." 

MedWar began in 1999 as a way medical personnel could get their continuing education units while being challenged with some real-life obstacles and mock medical emergency situations, said Ledrick. Over the years, teams have been made up of a diverse group of participants interested in honing their medical as well as physical skills. 

At Pickney State Park for the Midwest MedWar, thirty teams of three lined up at the starting line and were given envelopes with approximate locations in the park where they were to hike to. 

"Our scenario, and we called ourselves 'Air Force One,' was to respond to an accident in the woods. There was a forest fire, and the plane that carried the rescue workers went down. We were told some parachuted out," said McCormick. He and his team members ran about five miles to the accident site. 

"There were mannequins in the trees and lying all around," said McCormick. "It was pretty realistic." 

The team was then given a 'victim' with various 'injuries,' and an evaluator had a checklist to see if the members applied the appropriate first aid techniques. Race participants were exposed to a wide variety of mock injuries. Groups were challenged to identify and treat insect bites, treat conditions such as gangrene, trenchfoot and frostbite, and demonstrate their ability to splint different fractures. 

"Some things we had to do were critical. We had our combat life saver bags, so we were able to start an I.V.," said McCormick. "We had to tend to various wounds on the victim, and then had to transport the mannequin back to the starting point." 

After the five-mile hike back, the team had to canoe roughly two miles and respond appropriately to a different scenario. 

"Now your objective was to start a fire, build a waterproof shelter and purify drinking water," said McCormick. "And you actually had to drink it." 

McCormick and his team ended up in eleventh place. Not bad, given that the "Air Force One" members were all over the age of 40, while most were under the age of 30. The race usually lasts about seven hours before all teams make it to the finish line, and ends with a picnic and fellowship, followed by a night course. 

180th members may have an opportunity to try their hand at a MedWar adventure race in the future. 

"We are working to set up something like this for your military group and incorporating some of your Self-Aid, Buddy Care curriculum into it," said Ledrick.

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