News: Medical logistics delivers humanitarian efforts, literally
Story by Airman 1st Class Mariah Haddenham
GUAM - The 36th Medical Support Squadron War Reserve Material Flight is responsible for processing, packing and pushing the essential materials that impact thousands supported by humanitarian relief efforts in countries throughout the Asian-Pacific theater.
The Pacific is a unique environment, susceptible to frequent typhoons and earthquakes that often leave many injured and in need of medical assistance.
In the event of a disaster, the flight must be ready to roll out at a moment's notice. The flight is responsible for approximately $5.7 million in WRM assets that are verified and tested regularly to ensure mission capability.
Once a diplomatic process is completed where a foreign nation requests U.S. aid, the WRM flight is contacted and informed that they will be deploying.
"We have everything ready to go in advance," said Staff Sgt. Michael Noakes noncommissioned officer in charge of medical war reserve material. "Then we are out the door with the [36th] Contingency Response Group and we have the ability to care for a multitude of patients across the spectrum of care."
Upon arrival, teams unload aircraft pallets, which weigh approximately 10 tons in total. Each pallet can be specifically tailored to assist in the precise type of aid they will be providing. The pallets are organized by priority. The first to arrive and be unloaded are the emergency room and surgical pallets.
"Once we touch down, we can have our emergency room set up and ready for patients within two hours," Noakes said. "We then set up our surgical tent, and continue down the priority list until we are fully functional. We are literally building the most essential rooms of a hospital out of these containers."
WRM's equipment list includes anything that would be in a hardened hospital, conveniently tailored for field use.
"You name it, we've got it," said Airman 1st Class Clare Galabinski, WRM journeyman. "X-ray units to air conditioners, plus everything that we would need to support power, water and oxygen for a field hospital."
Once operational, armed forces have the ability to provide emergency care, surgery, radiology, pharmaceutical needs and more.
"Our job is essential to mission capabilities and the abilities of others providing relief efforts," Galabinski said. "If we don't complete our mission, we lose the ability to treat injuries. Untreated injuries can become casualties, plain and simple. So we do our job accurately and efficiently in order to contribute to this humanitarian relief and the healing of those in need."