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    Medical retrosort teams partner with regional commands to assist US forces, Afghans

    Medical retrosort teams partner with regional commands to assist US forces, Afghans

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Jon Cupp | Soldiers from the Fort Sam Houston, Texas-based 418th Medical Logistics Company,...... read more read more

    KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN

    03.05.2014

    Story by Sgt. 1st Class Jon Cupp 

    82nd Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade

    KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - With multiple locations in Afghanistan transforming through deconstruction projects, some people may ask what is done with containers of excess medical items left behind as military medical facilities consolidate and structures once occupied by troops in the combat zone are demolished.

    For the answer to that question, they may look no further than the retrosort facilities at Bagram Air Field and Kandahar Airfield, where troops with the 418th Medical Logistics Company, attached to the Eufaula, Ala.-based 1103rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and Fort Bragg, N.C.-based 82nd Sustainment Brigade-U.S. Central Command Materiel Recovery Element, tackle this seemingly insurmountable issue every day, sorting through thousands of medical items by hand.

    These 418th troopers, homestationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, begin by piling through large boxes containing mounds of everything from stretchers to surgical gowns, Band-Aids to thermometers and needles to stethoscopes. Along with smaller items, they also keep track of a few larger pieces of high value equipment that come through such as X-ray machines.

    Doing their inventories of each item by hand, the troops separate, categorize, process and give control numbers to the medical supplies and track each items’ location, preparing supplies to be returned to troops in theater, shipped back to bases in the U.S. and other bases throughout the world or given to Afghans through the Foreign Excess Personal Property Program. Troops dispose of any unsanitary, unusable and expired items which are taken to incinerators.

    In addition to having items brought to them at their retrosort tent, the 418th’s troops have also traveled to outerlying forward operating bases throughout Afghanistan to help units on site with handling excess medical items as bases have downsized.

    “Our main mission is trying to reutilize as much Class VIII [medical equipment] as possible, getting it to people who need in the U.S. forces or to Afghans through the FEPP program,” said Fayetteville, N.C., native, 1st Lt. Jaime Daniels, brigade medical planner/medical logistics officer for the 82nd SB-CMRE. “One of the most important aspects of the mission is that we’re saving money as some of these items can be expensive and sometimes hard to get through regular supply chains. We’re also saving lives, ensuring needed supplies get to the troops and to Afghans.”

    “Before we took on the mission, there really was no procedure in place and in the past, many good items were being disposed of,” said Daniels. “So, we’ve really come a long way since we started this mission nearly five months ago.”

    The medical retrosort team sets times when units can visit their warehouse and look through various items, fill out some paperwork and take the items back to their units.

    “If units need items immediately, they can come and get free issue, pick out what they want and do some official paperwork and we track what we give them for accountability,” said Daniels.

    “Soldiers and units come to us looking for many things like stretchers, the contents of a combat lifesaver kit and tourniquets are always a hot item,” said Chicago native Staff Sgt. Edward Hurtado, a biomedical equipment specialist attached to the 82nd SB-CMRE.

    In addition to the free issue in theater, the medical retrosort team posts many of the items online on an official military site through the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency. Utilizing this system, units throughout the U.S. and other bases throughout the world can have the items shipped to them.

    “We’ve had customers ranging from the U.S. State Department to bases like Tobyhanna Army Depot request items,” said Hurtado. “It’s a great system that can save people money and time.”

    In many cases, there are also excess items that can be set aside and given to the Afghans. When it comes to getting these medical supplies to Afghan National Security Forces and Afghan government organizations, the 82nd SB-CMRE has teamed with members of Regional Command–South’s Combined Joint Task Force 4 and Regional Command-East along with other commands in theater to conduct authorized transfers through the FEPP program.

    Using FEPP in conjunction with the other commands, 82nd SB-CMRE has donated supplies to the Kandahar Ministry of Public Health, the Kandahar Regional Medical Hospital, the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army.

    “Working with RC-S and the other military commands has been a huge help in getting a connection with the Afghan units,” said Daniels. “Working closely with the Afghans has helped to speed up the process of donating items.”

    “We know the ANA and other Afghans will benefit from this, but we couldn’t have been able to do all of this on our own, so we’re very appreciative of our partnership with the other commands and the Afghans which made this effort possible,” she added.

    In November 2013, the brigade teamed with RC-East to assist with the closure of the El Salam Egyptian Field Hospital at Bagram Air Field and thousands of excess medical supplies, worth approximately $200,000, were donated to the Afghans during the project.

    In addition to this, the 82nd SB-CMRE and RC-S gave their largest donation of medical supplies to the Afghans Feb. 25 at Kandahar, giving more than $700,000 in medical supplies to the Kandahar Ministry of Public Health which will be used at 46 clinics in the Kandahar region.

    Daniels said she’s constantly amazed by the work of the 418th Medical Logistics Company who work to make the medical retrosort mission a success.

    “We feel great about our mission so far and the Soldiers here do a great job working very hard to get these lifesaving items to people who need them,” said Daniels.

    To date, the medical retrosort teams at Kandahar and Bagram have saved U.S. taxpayers approximately $15 million worth of equipment that has been put back into the U.S. military inventory, given to units in theater or donated to Afghans through FEPP.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 03.05.2014
    Date Posted: 03.12.2014 01:57
    Story ID: 121865
    Location: KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, AF 
    Hometown: SANTA RITA, GU
    Hometown: CHICAGO, IL, US
    Hometown: EUFAULA, AL, US
    Hometown: FAYETTEVILLE, NC, US
    Hometown: FINDLAY, OH, US
    Hometown: FORT BRAGG, NC, US
    Hometown: FORT SAM HOUSTON, TX, US
    Hometown: MISSION VIEJO, CA, US
    Hometown: WEST COVINA, CA, US

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