IRT's provide medical providers the know how to setup, work and troubleshoot

3rd Medical Command Deployment Support
Story by Maj. Jeffrey Gruidl

Date: 09.04.2019
Posted: 09.05.2019 13:49
News ID: 338536

Standing up a functional medical, dental and veterinary clinic in an unfamiliar environment in a matter of hours could prove a daunting task. But, for medical providers under the 3D Medical Command (Deployment Support) and partners from the Army, Air Force Reserve and Navy Reserve supporting the Wise, Va., Appalachian Cares 2019, Innovative Readiness Training event, converting county fair horse barns into functioning medical facilities simply boils down to planning, training and executing to provide high-level military care in austere conditions.

With the primary objective of IRT missions being hands-on, joint training opportunities to increase deployment readiness, conditions for the mission are intentionally done in austere environments.

For 3D MC(DS) participating units, this means planning and coordination from the detachment to division level. “The planning and execution for IRTs are no different than for other military training events. Soldiers and units, planning and training on Mission Essential Tasks, executing deployment-like medical operations, providing military healthcare service and support.” said Lt. Col. Christiano Bonafede, 3D MC(DC), G3/5/7 Plans Officer.

Bonafede added, “The basis for any IRT mission is training for service members at individual, service and component levels. Careful coordination was required to ensure the IRT supported units' wartime METL with 3D MC(DS) units here receiving an external evaluation on specific METL tasks.”

Capt. Emma Gebhardt, Officer in Charge for the 422nd Med. Det. (Vet. Services), spent the last several months coordinating with her unit leadership identifying mission needs, to include capabilities training and support, equipment needs, transportation and security concerns. “Coordinating equipment and unique veterinary medical supply needs here is very similar to a deployment,” said Gebhardt. Adding, “There are two ways to get real world, hands-on training with actual equipment, IRT’s and deployments. With this IRT we proved we have the know how to setup, work and troubleshoot if something goes wrong.”

“Logistics for units participating in the IRT involves multiple levels of command. The task of transporting supplies and identifying areas to set up requires internal and external military planning and coordination along with critical civilian planning,” said Lt. Col. Brett Jackson, 3D MC(DS), Deputy G4.

Supporting the participating units in preparing the logistics, equipment maintenance and inventory is the Class VIII Medical Materiel facility based out of Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst. 3D MC(DS) has oversight of medical logistic class VIII with IRT MAMS in addition, the 3D MC(DS) G4 owns an active Class VIII DODAAC that support IRT MEDLOG initiatives, sustaining IRT CL VIII functions.

Once on ground and running the healthcare providers were actively engaged. With a population of 38,000, Wise County, Va.; located approximately sixty miles north of Bristol, Tenn., high on the Appalachian Plateau is in critical need of basic healthcare. The area was once an economic hub of the coal industry, but due to enduring economic struggles, Dr. Teresa Tyson, Executive Director of the Health Wagon and IRT community partner, describes the area and its health care disparities as, “The kidney stone belt, the black lung belt and the Bible belt, because everyone is praying for us.”

IRTs like this blend critical community support with relevant military training. According to Bonafede, “This has real-world value for Army Reserve medical service members – this type of training benefits Soldiers and units both today and long-term. IRT missions improve military readiness while simultaneously providing quality health care services across parts of the United States in need.”

For the military providers in Wise, the planning and coordination with local providers paid off. Air Force Reserve Physician, Maj. Winnifred Lamarre said, “This was not fragmented care. We were integrated with the community. Having the Health Wagon here is a great resource because they are so plugged into the community for resources available. They have a medical records liaison available here to look up historical data so we are providing patient’s a continuity of care.”

Beyond the military training there’s also a personal interaction and sense of pride. Virtually any service member you talk with has an individual story on how lives have been touched. “I spent 16 years on active duty and never did a mission like this. I love this, it’s humanitarian and it makes a difference,” said Lt. Col. Charles Lerner, physician with the 301st Field Hospital.

“IRT’s are the best retention tools for Army Reserve medical providers, it’s events like this keep medical providers excited to continue serving,” said Maj. Gen. William Shane Lee, Commander of the 3D MC(DS).