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59th MDW emphasizes medical readiness

By Staff Sgt. Kevin Iinuma | 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs | Oct. 22, 2014

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas — More than 2,000 Airmen from the 59th Medical Wing ascend on a training site at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland every year. Their arrival marks the organization's commitment to medical readiness training and its support for contingency operations around the world.

Military members receive the biennial deployment readiness training at a site near the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center. The requirement also applies to anyone who is tasked to deploy at a moment's notice.

The hands-on program is a requirement for all Wing personnel who support medical operations around the world. The training also includes familiarization with policies in a deployed environment, and learning about prescribed procedures for developing and sustaining comprehensive medical systems abroad.  The program also provides, assesses and monitors deployment readiness training and medical skills training for military personnel.

Master Sgt. Richard Arthur, NCO in charge of 59th MDW deployment readiness training and Joint Base San Antonio Self-Aid Buddy Care alternate program advisor, organizes this two-day course every week.

"We, as cadre, are able to influence every individual who is deploying from the WHASC and the San Antonio Military Medical Center," said Arthur. "We impart what we know to help make their deployment less taxing; one has enough to worry about prior to deploying.

"When we send our personnel out the door, there is a less than 1 percent chance that those individuals will have a (deployment) discrepancy, arriving at the (deployed location) without training of some sort," he said. "This is the lowest in the Air Force, and it is a constant,"

Students receive several different lectures in this course, including weapons safety. With litter carry training, students learn how to safely transport patients to and from an ambulance to a helicopter or transport plane, vital training a student can use if deployed to a Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility.

"I had a student tell me the other day that she was able to save her brother's life because of what I imparted to her," said Arthur.  "Always stay calm and relax because if you are excited, you will not be able to save a life. As I was taught early in my career, check your pulse and your breathing. If you have those two things down, you can save a life,"

Airman 1st Class Tyler Garcia, 959th Clinical Support Squadron laboratory technician who attended the course in July, said he now has a hands-on feel for what it's like to deploy. a Garcia, a first-term Airman, had never experienced deployment readiness training until now.

"The best experience in this course was to know how to carry the litters around," said Garcia. As a lab technician, Garcia would typically not perform ambulatory duties, but the possibility increases in a deployment environment.

"It's everyone's job to do that," he said. "You always have to be prepared; now I feel that I am."

Although 59th MDW deployment training is typically available to Airmen, Navy personnel who are assigned to an Air Force unit may attend the course as part of their deployment requirement.