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Blue lights, makeup, action!

By Capt. Russell Craig
From files of 2nd Lt. Suzanne Hendriksen and 2nd Lt. Jan Rensen

First published in
SFOR Informerr#127, November 28, 2001

The Dutch Battle Group's (DBG) medics undertook Ex Blue Lights, which tested their skills and abilities with an imitation road traffic accident. Also present was Dutch Warrant Officer 1st Class Willem Onstein who was practising another skill, namely that of casualty simulation.
Novi Travnik - Seven soldiers of the DBG stood before Onstein, waiting for him to inflict injuries upon them. Unusually all seemed to be happy about this situation. This was due to the fact that Onstein is a trainee in the Dutch educational scheme for the depiction of victims. The scheme is called LOTUS.
"The leaders of the exercise decided about the wounds of each person. Knowing that, I'm going to paint them. For me it's already possible to make every common wound. But, as a LOTUS, you always paint yourself. It's the first time for me to makeup others. If you're well trained, you can have somebody painted in about ten minutes," said Onstein.
Ex Blue Lights
Ex Blue Lights is an exercise that is held twice during the DBG's tour of duty. It is intended to test varying elements of the battle group including the operations room and quick reaction force (QRF). The scenario had two Dutch SFOR vehicles and one local car 'crashing.' The accident left six people injured and one mortally wounded. From start to finish the exercise was carried out in real time. This included the time it took the QRF to locate the crash area, on site treatment and the evacuation of the wounded in ambulances. To ensure that the event was as realistic as possible the exercise 'actors' were prepared in the medical centre on the Dutch base at Bugojno.
"You are not completely with it and have to look a little dazed. And you have lost a lot of blood, so you are very cold now," said a DBG doctor to a 'casualty.'
Onstein
As well as such briefings, realistic casualty simulation was critical. That is why Onstein's skills were so sought after. As a trainee on the LOTUS scheme he will have to undertake a final examination in the Netherlands next year. It was only due to this reason that he had brought all his gear with him, including his suitcase with all the make up and paint. He usually works in the Dutch command and information systems company in Banja Luka Metal Factory (Headquarters of Multinational Division Southwest).
Once his talent was discovered, however, he was quickly roped in to help, thus bringing an extra edge to Blue Lights and at the same time giving him much needed practice. Onstein gazed down at the arterial bleeding that he had just finished and said, "It looks good now, but a relevant part is the correct acting that belongs to the injury. That's hard, but good fun too."
Although the exercise was enjoyable for the actors involved, it provided challenging and realistic training for the rest of the battle group. Thankfully all involved performed admirably and in the final evaluation they achieved a good score.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Netherland
Training and Exercises