MEDEX 16 expands health care on a global level

| September 23, 2016 | 0 Comments
Lt. Col Richard Floyd, a logistics planner with the U.S. Army Pacific CommandÕs Surgeon Cell, shows members of the PeopleÕs Army of VietnamÕs Peacekeeping Center a variety of equipment that U.S. Army Combat Support Hospitals use for sustainment support during contingency operations at Misawa Air Force Base, Japan, on 22 August. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class John D. Brown, 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support) Public Affairs Office)

Lt. Col Richard Floyd, a logistics planner with the U.S. Army Pacific Command’s Surgeon Cell, shows members of the People’s Army of Vietnam’s Peacekeeping Center a variety of equipment that U.S. Army Combat Support Hospitals use for sustainment support during contingency operations at Misawa Air Force Base, Japan, Aug. 22.

 

Story and photos by Sgt. 1st Class John D. Brown
18th Medical Command (Deployment Support) Public Affairs

FORT SHAFTER — When a disaster strikes, anywhere in the world, victims put their faith in the health care professionals who are immediately available to respond.

It doesn’t matter the color of their uniform or the language they speak; all that matters is that someone was there in their time of need.

For the Soldiers and leaders of the 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support), providing multilateral training opportunities and engaging with our medical partners throughout the Indo-Asian Pacific region are primary peacetime missions. A prime example of these efforts can be found in their recent partnership with the health care professionals of the People’s Army of Vietnam (VPA).

Maj. Paul Watkins, the Vietnam health engagement planning lead for 18th MEDCOM, recently escorted a delegation of VPA health care professionals to Misawa Air Force Base, Japan, during the Joint Medical Exercise 2016 (MEDEX 16) to demonstrate the logistical requirements necessary to deploy an emergency trauma care facility in a joint environment.

“Asia-Pacific Military Health Exchanges, such as the People’s Army of Vietnam’s visit to MEDEX 16, are unifying engagements, which military and civilian leaders agree, enable quick and effective response to natural disasters,” Watkins said.

According to Watkins, over the past two years, 18th MEDCOM has assisted the U.S. Army-Pacific Command Surgeon Cell and the VPA by conducting subject matter expert exchanges in Vietnam and inviting VPA delegations consisting of Peacekeeping Center officers and health care professionals, to observe and participate in combat support hospital training at Joint Base Lewis-McCord, Wash., prior to MEDEX 16.

Maj. Paul Watkins, a logistics planner and the Vietnam engagement lead for 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support), facilitates a discussion about medical logistics sustainment during contingency operations with a delegation of officers from the PeopleÕs Army of Vietnam during Joint Medical Exercise 2016 held at Misawa Air Force Base, Misawa, Japan, 22 August. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class John D. Brown, 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support) Public Affairs Office)

Maj. Paul Watkins, a logistics planner and the Vietnam engagement lead for 18th MEDCOM (DS), facilitates a discussion about medical logistics sustainment during contingency operations with a delegation of officers from the People’s Army of Vietnam.

“The overall intent is to support Vietnam’s desire to successfully deploy a United Nations medical Role 2 Capability in support of a United Nations peacekeeping operation,” Watkins said.

Watkins, a medical logistician by trade, used the backdrop of MEDEX 16 to sit down with the Vietnamese delegation and discuss the unique challenges that an organization may face while deploying health service support into austere – and sometimes hostile – environments in support of contingency operations anywhere in the world.

“Lt. Col. Rich Floyd (the USARPAC Surgeon Cell logistics officer) and I drew on our experiences in deploying Army health systems to share some of the pitfalls that the Vietnamese may encounter,” Watkins said.

Floyd and Watkins highlighted pre-deployment considerations that the VPA medical planners may consider, such as electrical compatibility with medical equipment, host nation support for medical supplies, international shipping constraints for controlled/hazardous materials, environmental effects on medical assets and equipment, and sustainment support for health care professionals.

“These types of medical engagements provide a forum for training personnel, both U.S. and our international partners, for an effective response during a humanitarian aid mission, a natural disaster or a contingency operation,” Watkins said.

Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Wrighton Jr., senior enlisted adviser for 18th MEDCOM (DS), joined the delegation during MEDEX 16 and said that the United Nations Role 2 capability within the VPA provides another link in the Indo-Asian Pacific Global Healthcare chain of support.

Watkins also pointed out that, “Inter-regional cooperation within the health care community may also favorably affect the economic, social and political fabric of the nations involved and potentially remove obstacles to inter-regional cooperation in other sectors.

“As the vice president of the United States said earlier this year, ‘We know the best way to assure the security of the American people in our world is by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners,’” Watkins said.

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