By Sgt. 1st Class Rodney Jackson
SAGAMIHARA, Japan (Aug. 28, 2012) -- Soldiers from the 325th Combat Support Hospital, 139th Medical Brigade, 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support), deployed from Independence, Missouri, and executed a seamless mass casualty exercise for disaster relief on Sagami (Army) General Depot in Sagamihara, Japan, Aug. 28.
The unit accomplished this while escorting numerous visitors, to include Japanese media, through an 84-bed combat support hospital that the unit built from the ground up a week prior, during U.S. Army Pacific's Medical Exercise 2012.
Medical Exercise 2012, or MEDEX 12, is a U.S. Army Pacific multi-component, joint service, bi-lateral exercise hosted by 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support), U.S. Army Pacific. This is the second year, of a planned annual event, that 18th MEDCOM (DS) has hosted MEDEX 12, and the first year in over a decade that a combat support hospital has been set-up on Sagami General Depot during the event.
The 325th CSH worked hand-in-hand with the Medical Support Squadron, Yakota Airbase Hospital medical team, and had acting patients moved by helicopter and ambulance bus from the air base, which is an hour drive and 15 minute flight, to the combat support hospital site to demonstrate the receipt of patients in the event of a natural disaster in the area.
"The mass casualty exercise went well and it was interesting and realistic experience to have the Japanese reporters out there when that ambulance bus came up, unexpected adjustments made by the Air force that expanded the event from single triage to dual triage, which meant all of the hospital units had to respond to the changes, and it all went smoothly," explained Col. Michael Banton, deputy chief clinical services, 325th Combat Support Hospital, 139th Medical Brigade, 807th MEDCOM (DS). "There wasn't a sense of chaos. Everything went in an orderly manner, which is exactly what we are trying to accomplish in triage."
"The air evacuation process by aircraft is an extensive coordination process and Airman Amanda Woodcox, health service management, Medical Support Squadron, Yakota Airbase Hospital, helped coordinate the entire process," said Lt Col. Tim Martinez, chief, health engagement division, Pacific Air Forces.
"Woodcox has a lot of patient administration experience and working with the Reservist here, some of them it's their first time, helped make the process better. I'm so glad that the Air Force could be a part of it with the helicopters and patient movement said," Martinez.
The unit has executed the mission, so far, with only half of its Soldiers.
"Half of our unit arrived back at home station yesterday from a deployment to Kuwait," said Sgt. 1st Class John Morschl, orthopedic technician, 325th Combat Support Hospital, 139th Medical Brigade, 807th MEDCOM (DS). "There were little bumps here and there, but despite the challenge of the heat and humidity things are going well."
Morschl went on to say that the unit deployed Soldiers to Afghanistan in 2004 and Iraq in 2007.
Col. Todd Clow, deputy chief clinical services, 325th Combat Support Hospital, 139th Medical Brigade, 807th MEDCOM (DS), who is responsible for hospital operations, described the performance of the unit as "outstanding" considering the personnel strength.
"Typically we would have almost double the amount of Soldiers to help set-up and nurse anesthetists helped pound in stacks and put up tents," Clow explained.
He went on to say that the 84-bed hospital is there because it's readily expandable.
"We have 164 personnel and a full complement of a 144-bed combat support hospital has over 480 Soldiers," said Clow. "The point I'm making here is that the Soldiers who have been here on the ground have been really working hard and doing things that they don't necessarily do. We had a timetable to meet and despite the heat they did it."