Mission Makeover: Robins uses moulage expertise to add realism to exercises

  • Published
  • By Holly Logan-Arrington
When most people think about the military, dabbling with makeup is probably the last thing that comes to mind.

But the moulage team - which consists of four to 10 military members in the 78th Medical Group's Laboratory Flight -  does just that. In fact, they often practice creating a variety of fake injuries on each other using makeup.

Team members often dig through bags of makeup to create life-like injuries during staged tornados, plane crashes or other simulated disasters to exercise Robins' skills in responding to potential real-world emergencies and practicing self-aid and buddy care.

First Lt. John Shorter, 78th Medical Support Squadron Medical Readiness Flight commander, said moulage plays a vital role in the readiness of troops, both at home and abroad.

"Broken bones, lacerations, burns and many other injuries are all fair game," he said. "Most military members rarely encounter the types of trauma simulated by moulage in their daily duties. These simulations prepare them for scenarios they may encounter downrange or disasters that occur closer to home."

Shorter said moulage is an essential part of making exercises as realistic as possible.
"Although our troops, and particularly medics, receive training to help them respond to these types of injuries, they often have limited practice or experience," he said. "Exercises are a way to bridge the gap between our home station mission and our ultimate responsibilities across the globe."

Maj. Carlos Doria Jr., 78th Medical Support Squadron Laboratory Flight commander, said depending on the scenario, it can take up to a half hour or more to make an injury look convincing.

"If the exercise called for an active shooter situation where an actor was shot once, it could take 10 minutes to create," he said. "On the other hand, if the actor was in a fire scenario, the artist may have to simulate burn injuries throughout different parts of the body. That would require up to 40 minutes or more depending on the injury detail."
Exercise participants aren't the only ones whose skills are tested. Doria said a lot of moulage involves on-the-job training, a factor that can challenge even the best makeup artist.

"The most difficult moulage project for the team has been the recent tornado exercise," he said. "What made it difficult was that the artists had to simulate injuries ranging from broken limbs to minor cuts and bruising throughout the body. The artists had to process 16 actors within two hours. Additionally, the actors, while being moulaged, had to be prepped for the role. They had specific acting instructions such as wincing in severe pain, being hysterical or playing unconscious."

Doria said knowing that the team was helping first responders and team members meet their mission made it worthwhile.

While moulage isn't part of Doria's primary profession, it's a real asset to mission readiness.

"The team sees this as an excellent opportunity to not only meet our wing's mission but to express our creative and artistic skills," he said.