Friday, September 1, 2017

TOP STORY >> Taking care of us, taking care of you

By Staff Sgt. Jeremy McGuffin
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

“Exercise, exercise, exercise” … 

A common phrase heard throughout the military to distinguish real world events from training scenarios. 

Most of these training activities are no-notice, but the 19th Medical Group plans these events monthly to balance patient care and readiness responsibilities.

The 19th MDG training is conducted the fourth Thursday of every month while still managing primary care, dental and preventive healthcare services to more than 5,800 military personnel and more 38,600 non-active duty beneficiaries in central Arkansas.

Planning teams from every field in medicine work in advance to develop situations to maximize the training time they have each month. 

The 19th MDG has 15 Unit Type Codes (UTCs) to include Expeditionary Medical Support (EMEDS) and High Altitude Airdrop Mission Support (HAAMS). These UTCs require specialized training to perform their expeditionary missions. 

“We also have 16 Medical Contingency Response Plan teams which perform emergency response functions outside daily operations and benefit from the hands-on experiences provided on these training days,” said 1st Lt. Hershell Gaffney Witherspoon, 19th MDG Medical Readiness Flight commander.

The 19th MDG is required to allot time to prepare for any potential threat at home, as well as making sure that they are up-to-date on the best practices in a deployed environment

“We need to be ready to deploy in austere environments,” said Lt. Col. Elizabeth Beal, 19th Medical Operations Squadron commander. “Our personnel are prepared and trained to adjust to any situation and these training days ensure the entire Medical Group runs efficiently.”

The most recent training day focused the entire medical facility on being able to respond to the threat of Anthrax released on base.

“We exercised the fact that we can take care of personnel quickly and effectively,” Beal said. “It began with a complete recall of Airmen to determine exposure and appropriate response of our team and ended with us identifying those effected while containing the outbreak.”

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson stated in her first interview to Air Force News that her first focus is Air Force readiness, a mindset the  men and women of the 19th MDG have fostered for some time.

“Our continued mission is to keep readiness first and sustain provider and support personnel operational preparedness,” Gaffney Witherspoon said. “Maintaining and sharpening our readiness skills is imperative to ensuring we are best serving our Team Little Rock members and their families, as well as our brothers and sisters down range.”

The Comprehensive Medical Readiness Program ensures medical personnel are fully trained to meet globally integrated operations while limiting the impact to Little Rock Air Force Base customers.

“Having time set aside for training and exercises allows us to push our limits and force us to think outside routine operations,” Gaffney Witherspoon said. “To reduce the impact on our customers, the 19th MDG has worked closely with the 19th Airlift Wing to synchronize our training days with the base exercise calendar, enabling a predictable and consistent schedule.”

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