Nearly 100 active duty medical personnel from the 779th Medical Group have arrived at Camp Atterbury, Indiana after a Saturday morning flight from Joint Base Andrews. Less than a day after they arrived on the scene of a simulated disaster, they already were showing their ability to exceed expectations as they met their mission objectives, to build and man an Expeditionary Medical Support Team field hospital with a 25-bed capacity within 24 hours. Early staff reports indicate that the team constructed the EMEDS+25 field hospital within 17 hours of arrival at Camp Atterbury.
The team, part of a 2000-person exercise, included 99 active duty medical personnel assigned to the 779th Medical Group. One additional service member had been selected to accompany the team on deployment but was unable to participate because of an undisclosed medical issue.
“We had one who was unwell, you’re one light,” said Col. Robert Reinhart, troop commander for the team deploying to Camp Atterbury, as they gathered outside Malcolm Grow Medical Clinic for departure. “Everybody take care of each other.”
The exercise is part of a continual training regime intended to keep members of the 779th Medical Group, as well as other Department of Defense, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and non-governmental agencies prepared to respond quickly and effectively in the case of a large-scale disaster. The deployers from the 779th Medical Group who left for Indiana on Saturday’s flight are active duty physicians, nurses and medical technicians who in their everyday lives work at Joint Base Andrews, Fort Belvoir, and Walter Reed Military Medical Center. Each was selected based on their training to be able to provide critical triage and health care in the case of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear event or other catastrophe, whether man-made or a natural disaster.
Members of the 779th Medical Group have been training at JBA as well, in recent months, in preparation to take over a new, two-year disaster response mission which will begin in October 2012. Should local, regional and state-level resources be exhausted, the 779th Medical Group will be among those federal assets called upon to respond to a governor’s request for federal disaster assistance, “to save lives, prevent human suffering, and mitigate damage,” said Col. Jay Cloutier, deputy commander for the 779th Medical Group.
“They look very ready,” said Col. Hilde Stewart, commander of the 779th Medical Operations Squadron, as the last of the team boarded shuttle buses to the flightline.
Stewart called the deployment an exciting one in which she would have been glad to participate, saying, “They’re looking forward to a great time, taking care of each other and getting the mission completed. It’s something the commander wants to do, but I’ve got to stay at JBA and take care of the home mission.”
The team will return to Maryland in mid-August after a two-week deployment.