FORT BRAGG, N.C. –
Three U.S. Army Reserve units are providing medical support to the 20th Annual Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop here from November 30 to December 8.
Operation Toy Drop allows Soldiers with various skill sets, as well as these Army Reserve medical commands, an opportunity to employ their skills and enhance their focused readiness. The U.S. Army Reserve and the Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) based at Fort Bragg is hosting the event.
“Eight foreign countries participate; Soldiers train with foreign jump masters, and learn commands,” said Maj. Kathleen S. Feeley-Lynch, with the 7458 Medical Backfill Battalion (MBB) stationed here. For many, Operation Toy Drop served as a venue to conduct training that mirrors their civilian careers.
“A lot of our new Soldiers are medics for the Army and are full time students,” said Feeley-Lynch, the OIC for the medical units. “Many of the Soldiers have recently completed Drop Zone Medical Operation Course offered at Fort Bragg’s Medical Simulation Training Center.” The course focuses on injuries that could occur during airborne operations.
Operation Toy Drop is an opportunity for Soldiers to experience real world military training.
“Soldiers practice basic soldiering and medical skills in a controlled environment,” said 1st Lt. Kirsten A. Westberg, a medical surgeon nurse with the 7458 MBB and a civilian nurse.
“You’re in a field environment, being able to set up an aid station and learn how to load patients and litters on to an aircraft,” said Feeley-Lynch.
“It’s more relevant for real life. We need hands-on, on the field training like this,” said Maj. Arnold J. Cortez, an ER nurse with the MBB.
Another benefit of this event is the opportunity to work with Soldiers from other Army Reserve units.
“We’re fortunate to work with a bunch of professionals,” said Cortez.
“We have two doctors, several ER nurses, an ICU nurse and several medics. We have 28 personnel in total,” said Feeley-Lynch. “We’re spread out through the DZ; we also have roaming medics who are walking around with aid bags.”
“Our overall goal to provide support for this mission. Our team is well equipped to help people out if they really need it,” said Cortez.
Their days consist of 14-hour workdays; typically arriving an hour before the jumps start and leave an hour after everyone is back.
“We’re the first group on, last group off,” said Westberg.
“I’m grateful to serve those who serve us,” said Westberg. The service to me is the most important part, that’s why I chose this profession.”