Joint services train in Kauai’s Tropic Care 2014

| June 27, 2014 | 0 Comments
Sgt. Kyle Baylis (left), dental lab technician, and Maj. (Dr.) Anna Lichelle Aldana (right), comprehensive dentist, both with the 455th Dental Co., provide dental care for a member of the Kauai local community during Tropic Care 2014 at the Eleele Elementary School, June 20. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Hubenthal  Defense Media Activity – Hawaii News Bureau)

Sgt. Kyle Baylis (left), dental lab technician, and Maj. (Dr.) Anna Lichelle Aldana (right), comprehensive dentist, both with the 455th Dental Co., provide dental care for a member of the Kauai local community during Tropic Care 2014 at the Eleele Elementary School, June 20. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Hubenthal
Defense Media Activity – Hawaii News Bureau)

Exercise emphasizes joint teamwork

Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Hubenthal, Defense Media Activity-Hawaii News Bureau

KAUAI, Hawaii — Active duty, National Guard and Reserve service members provided health care to Kauai local community members during Tropic Care 2014, which started June 16 as part of a 10-daylong joint exercise.

Tropic Care, an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) exercise, is designed to provide those participating the opportunity to work in a joint-services and combined civil-military environment while delivering world-class health care to the community.

Col. Susan Fitzgerald, 804th Medical Brigade, and officer in charge of Tropic Care 2014, explained the overall mission of the exercise.

“It allows us to train together with our sister services — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Hawaii National Guard — as well as our civilian counterparts to train in an environment where we have the opportunity to learn from each other, learn from each others’ equipment and language, in a noncritical situation, while at the same time to promote health care to the people of Kauai,” Fitzgerald said.

Service members conducted physical, medical and dental exams during the exercise at three static clinics and one mobile clinic, but the real training started before the patients arrive.

U.S. Army Sgt. Kyle Baylis, 455th Dental Company, dental lab technician (left), and U.S. Army Maj. (Dr.) Anna Lichelle Aldana, 455th Dental Company, comprehensive dentist (right), provide dental care for a member of the Kaua'i local community during Tropic Care 2014 at the Eleele Elementary School June 20, 2014, in Kaua'i, Hawaii. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal)

U.S. Army Sgt. Kyle Baylis, 455th Dental Company, dental lab technician (left), and U.S. Army Maj. (Dr.) Anna Lichelle Aldana, 455th Dental Company, comprehensive dentist (right), provide dental care for a member of the Kaua’i local community during Tropic Care 2014 at the Eleele Elementary School June 20, 2014, in Kaua’i, Hawaii. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal)

“The benefit is actually not in the providing of the medical, dental and optometry care, because (these service members) do that all the time, and they are experts in providing care,” said Brig. Gen. Daniel Dire, deputy commander, 3rd Medical Command. “The training is actually in the movement of personnel, equipment and medical supplies in order to conduct the mission just as they would have to do if they were deployed to a combat theater.”

Dire compared the setup of these static and mobile clinics as a means to practice for other real-world contingencies.

“The IRT mission is an opportunity for our reserve component Soldiers to practice their wartime mission,” Dire said. “That’s to deploy outside of their home of record, transport all of their equipment and medical supplies, and to conduct a real-world mission.”

Navy Capt. Stephen Lee, 24th Dental Company, 4th Dental Battalion, described challenges he faced.

“(Medical equipment) can get fairly hot in this humid environment, so it allows us to sometimes troubleshoot the equipment,” Lee said.

“We’re not in a hard motored building like we normally would be, but that’s good training for us,” Lee added.

Adjusting to different procedures in a joint environment has challenged service members to operate as one cohesive unit.

“We have a great team here,” said Sgt. 1st Class Marcela Reyes, 455th Medical Company Dental Services dental assistant.

“We get to learn a lot about how the Air Force and Navy run things,” Reyes said. “It’s a big learning curve, but we’re adjusting.”

During the exercise, patients are able to have health concerns identified, teeth extracted and examined, and glasses prescriptions filled.

The Tropic Care 2014 Naval Opthalmic Support Training Activity team have fabricated 250 to 300 pairs of glasses a day to help fulfill the local communities’ health care needs.

Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Richelle Lodholtz, Expeditionary Medical Facility Great Lakes, said there is a lot to take away from Tropic Care 2014.

“The joint environment gives the service members a chance to interact and see how we all do things a little bit differently,” Lodholtz explained.

“This is fabulous training for everyone involved,” Lodholtz added. “I’m putting this as another notch in the belt and as more training.”

“It’s been a seamless integration,” Lee added. “You couldn’t tell if you took off a uniform who was in the Navy, Air Force, Army or Marines. It’s just seamless.”

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Category: Community, Defense Media Activity, Fitness, Health, Training

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