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Hawaii ‘leis’ on real-world training

  • Published
  • By By Tech. Sgt. Monica Dalberg
  • 106th Medical Group
Like the fronds of a palm leaf, 106th Rescue Wing Medical Group members, here, fanned out recently at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii to accomplish real-world training at premier medical facility, Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC) and the 15th Medical Group.

The 13-day deployment for training (DFT) opportunity, which wrapped up in September, came about for 106th Rescue Wing medical personnel after scoring in the top five of 90 medical units evaluated in the nation. Units were scored in random criteria, such as individual medical readiness, occupational health exams, and percentages of currencies credentialing providers in the medical group.

According to 106th Rescue Wing Medical Group Commander, Col. Pamela Combs, the chance to hone skills at a hardened facility such as TAMC, was extremely advantageous to members here. Although the clinic at the 106th Rescue Wing is not a military treatment facility (MTF,) medical technicians in the unit must maintain the same training requirements as technicians based at MTFs. 

The medical technicians on the DFT received hands-on experience in providing patient care under the supervision of skilled preceptors. They also faced challenges of new tasks presented in a large and advanced healthcare setting such as TAMC, which has a diverse patient population, meeting the healthcare needs of active duty members, their dependents, and retirees. Members accomplished readiness and upgrade training in patient administration; family medicine; anesthesia; emergency medicine; dental; pediatrics; flight medicine; and public health.

“It was definitely an exhilarating experience and the hospital pace was fast,” said Technical Sgt. Sandra Martinez. “In a deployment location you’re expected to perform efficiently and at a faster rate and we achieved that.” 

Medical technician Senior Airman Zachary Wagner-Herbert trained in the blood donor center at TAMC in transfusions and processed specimens in microbiology, learning about pathogens and antibiotics. “It was a good opportunity to be exposed to different areas of the lab. Everyone I worked with went out of their way to train me. It was probably the best training experience I’ve had. I wish we could have stayed longer and learned even more,” he said.

Oftentimes members receive training through scenarios during exercises to sharpen skills, said Combs. One of the unique training opportunities presented at TAMC during the DFT was a real-world patient aeromedical evacuation.

“You're actually experiencing what truly is going on,” said Combs, of being able to witness the demands presented in aeromedical evacuations. “What are the challenges in making the patient ready for aeromedical evacuation? Keeping the patient stable and also, how much time does it truly take?” She stated often in exercises an evacuation can be condensed into 20 minutes. 

“You don’t really appreciate the complexity and all the logistics…that have to go into the actual transport. I think it gave them a better understanding of how all of the different components work together to accomplish something like the aeroevac, as well as how much time it takes,” said Combs of her unit members. 

Throughout the deployment for training, personnel cultivated integration skills crucial on contingency medical deployments and domestic operations, according to Combs. 

“Working in that environment with other branches, helping members from the Navy, the Army…It brought us together and helped us to bond as a unit. We went into an active duty station and blended well with them. I felt like we were one with the Army,” said Martinez.  

Army Col. Andrew Barr, TAMC commander, presented Army Certificates of Achievement to unit members Senior Airman Zachary Wagner-Herbert, Senior Airman Ashley Espin, and Senior Airman Joanne Magloire. Col Barre also acknowledged excellent performances by coining Master Sgt. Karina Munoz, Technical Sgt. Sandra Martinez, and Senior Airman Juan Lopez.