NEWS | July 17, 2018

Troop Medical Clinic supports their own during Global Medic exercise

By Pvt. Hunter Eastman Exercise News Day

In the arid, inland desert of the Golden State, lies an array of poisonous creatures and soaring temperatures that are ready to stop Soldiers in their tracks. 

Army Reserve Soldiers on annual training at Fort Hunter Liggett can come across diverse wildlife such as rattlesnakes and black widow spiders, along with accompanying heat that could lead to dehydration -- both of which could be deadly. 

The 7453rd Medical Backfill Battalion, out of Mesa, Arizona, provides medical support to roughly 6,000 troops participating in Global Medic. 

“We take care of a lot of different needs that the Soldiers have,” said Capt. Shannon King, a medical surgical nurse for the 7453rd MBB. Daily concerns include blisters on their feet, spider bites, heat related injuries, and possibly more life-threatening conditions like heart attacks or seizures. 

On any given day during the exercise, an estimated 80 Soldiers will receive medical care. Roughly 10 percent of those Soldiers will receive care due to heat injuries. 

Lt. Col. Jeanette Gehm of the 7453rd MBB, a nurse and officer-in-charge of the Global Medic staff augmenting the Troop Medical Clinic, said education is the first line of defense. 

“The medical staff is very adamant about giving information to the Soldiers, helping them prevent some of the most common injuries.” 

Along with critter-awareness, another line of defense is water intake. This is especially important for those who have had previous heat injuries. 

“When you have a heat-related injury, you’re at risk for having another one close after,” said King. 

Gehm agreed, adding that Soldiers must take extra precautions making use of the shade, rest periods and uniform modifications, which allow them to continue their mission while also maintaining their safety. 

Medical staff train year-round during battle assemblies to ensure they provide world-class medical care regardless of the environment. 

“We do our absolute best to make sure we take care of the Soldiers and get them back to the mission,” said King. “Without medical support you can’t have boots on the ground, period.”

Both in exercise and real-world, Soldiers need care.

Global Medic is designed to test and train medical personnel and units to improve their ability in responding to care as a team; as well as offering medical support to their own during annual training. 

As Soldiers continue to push themselves through the hot climate, their command has implemented some of the prevention methods the TMC recommends.

Capt. Rudy Garza, the executive officer of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 228th Combat Support Hospital out of San Antonio filled footlockers full of ice water while out in the field, about an hour outside of Fort Hunter Liggett. They’ve created a method to cool down by implementing ice-bucket cool-off areas for Soldiers to soak their arms in, causing the number of heat related injuries to drop down to zero.

Implementing simple measures to mitigate environmental injuries on Soldiers training, will ultimately impact the success of each exercise and increase the preparedness of our Army Reserve to deploy when called upon.