MESQUITE, Texas –
U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers form new Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces to serve and support civilian medical community in a time of national emergency.
The UAMTF 94-1 is a multipurpose and flexible medical unit composed of 85 Soldiers. The task force is designed to relieve the strain on an areas healthcare facility. The team can break up into any size team depending on what is required by their civilian counterpart needs. The task force has nearly every medical specialty and capability found in a hospital except for surgery.
The UAMTF is a newly established type of unit created by necessity just for the Army Reserve COVID-19 medical response effort and designed in February and March of 2020. Even though the terminology may be new, many troops have been training for a mission like this their entire careers.
Col. Christopher Aasgaard, the officer in charge of the Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force 94-1, explained why the task force was created rather than deploying already established medical units.
“The 94th Combat Support Hospital already has a task, they have what they're expected to do,” said Aasgaard. “When something completely new and different happens, we need to come up with some way to help with that.”
UAMTF 94-1 is primarily comprised of Soldiers from the Combat Support Hospital personnel, but may have additional Soldiers from across the Army Reserve cross-leveled to fill specialized positions as needed.
Several Soldiers in the UAMTF medical reserve units also work in the healthcare field on a daily basis in their civilian careers. Sgt. Edgar Gonzalez, a 68W combat medic specialist with the 94th Combat Support Hospital, 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support), is an emergency room technician when he is not serving in the U.S. Army Reserve.
“I kind of already have this particular experience under my belt,” Gonzalez said. “Just looking at a patient and seeing how they present and knowing what to expect as far as treating a patient and how they may react. I see different patients every day. Working with nurses and doctors on a daily basis just increases my medical knowledge and experience.”
When called-up, the UAMTF is pre-positioned with their Army Reserve unit for responding to a national emergency. They use prepacked supplies and equipment and are ready to go when they are given a mission to go help the next area of the United States in need. The UAMTF can mobilize for movement anywhere in the United States in 15 minutes using this method of preparation.
“Our intent is provide a defense support of civil authority. We come in to provide help to the local authorities,” said Aasgaard. “We support Americans and those susceptible, under-served populations.”
Although the structure is new and response efforts are fluid, when a UAMTF deploys into a local area, they typically augment the medical facilities already established.
“The FEMA Public Assistant Coordinators basically say, 'I need this type of person' - so I find a mission-capable soldier and I give them that type of person,” said Capt. George Baker, the chief nursing officer for the UAMTF 94-1. “They fall right in and start taking care of patients.”
“We are there to provide expertise and support,” said Baker. “We are a pre-packaged group of experienced personnel to supplement the civilian healthcare system. That's us.”