FORT POLK, La. –
The Joint Readiness Training Center is a force readiness platform and crucible combat training center for the Army. But Operations Group isn’t the only unit to get in on the training action at Fort Polk. Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital is a designated training facility currently hosting U.S. Army Nurse Corps Cadet clinical rotations, special operations medical personnel and the 355th Area Support Medical Company from Bossier City, Louisiana.
The 355th ASMC, an Army Reserve unit, is conducting their annual drill at BJACH and with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, this summer. The unit arrived July 18 and will finish their two-week rotation on Friday.
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Baltz, senior clinical noncommissioned officer in charge at BJACH, was integral in the coordinating efforts that brought the 355th to Fort Polk for their annual training.
“I was excited to assist and make this a successful event for the 355th,” he said. “This is our chance to show our reserve counterparts what we do to support the fight and maintain a medically ready force.”
Baltz said the rotation supports the U.S. Army Medical Command’s strategic vision of a ready, reformed, reorganized, responsive and relevant ready medically force to support the warfighting mission, anytime, anywhere.
“Between BJACH and the 355th AMSC the operations process was exercised, activation orders were created, the unit was mobilized, the training was resourced and executed when their boots hit the ground last week,” he said. “Reserve units are expected to perform at the same level as their active duty counterparts when called upon. If and when the 355th AMSC is activated to answer the nations call, they will know what right looks like for their military occupational specialty, enhancing the support MEDCOM provides to the fighting force.”
Baltz said medics from the 355th AMSC trained in the emergency department, hospital education and staff development, and ancillary clinics to hone and craft their basic technical skills.
“We also have dietary technicians, logistic specialists, a behavioral health technician, a medical service officer and a field surgeon currently training at BJACH,” he said. “I think this rotation speaks volumes about this reserve unit and it is a credit to their leadership for making it happen.”
Pfc. Serena Sering, behavioral health specialist, is spending her annual training in the BJACH Behavioral Health Department. Sering said she enjoys her military occupational specialty because she is working towards her degree and licensing as a social worker.
“This is my first annual training since I graduated from my advanced individual training,” she said. “Being at BJACH is a valuable experience. I’ve enjoyed working with and helping patients find solutions to some of their problems.”
Coincidentally Sering is the spouse of an active duty behavioral health specialist assigned to BJACH. Sgt. 1st Class Darryl Dangerfield is a nutrition care specialist assigned to the 355th AMSC. A retired police officer currently working private security, Dangerfield said he loves being in the kitchen.
“Getting back in the kitchen and doing nutrition care for patients a nice change of pace for me,” he said. “The entire team at BJACH has treated us like family since we’ve arrived.”
Pfc. Brock Leavitt and Pfc. Emily Tyler are both combat medics working in the BJACH emergency department. Leavitt said the hands on training he’s had while at BJACH has been very beneficial. Leavitt and Brock both agree that this is the best annual training they’ve participated in since they’ve been assigned to their unit.
“I’ve learned a lot over the past two weeks,” Brock said. “I’ve really learned to master administering IVs. I’ve had a lot of practice in training, but working with actual patients is different than practicing on my battle buddies.”
Sgt. 1st Class Brady Kornelis, noncommissioned officer in charge of the BJACH ED, said both Leavitt and Brock have been hungry to learn.
“Since their arrival to BJACH, they have wanted to learn everything our team can teach them,” he said. “They have been continuously involved with patient care in order to further their medical skills. They’ve administered IVs, taken vitals, conducted EKGs, ultrasounds and assisted with patient retrieval from Cajun Dust-Off (C Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Aviation Regiment). They have been nothing short of a force multiplier during their time in my department.”
Spc. Tyler Bridges, combat medic from the 355th, is working in the BJACH pathology department for two weeks.
“I’ve enjoyed working in the lab during our annual training this year,” he said. “We are getting hands-on experience doing our military jobs in a medical setting. As medics, we are trained to draw blood, so working as a phlebotomist is a perishable skill I am able to brush up on.” Bridges said the most unique experience he’s had during this rotation was drawing blood from a baby.
Sgt. Amy Walker and Spc. Triston Waggoner are both unit supply specialists for the 355th AMSC. In her civilian career, Walker is an advanced medical support assistant for the Department of Veterans Administration. She works in a medical facility but neither she nor Waggoner have ever done logistics for a hospital before.
“This has given me a lot of insight into what our logistics department does at the VA,” she said. “In addition to my annual training, I’m getting some insight and a better understanding for the organization I work for while not in uniform.”
Waggoner said he enjoys being an Army Reserve member.
“This rotation has been the closest we’ve gotten to actually doing our jobs, it’s been great,” he said. “For me it’s been rewarding working in the warehouse, packing pallets and other things I haven’t had real world experience doing. From a training perspective we’ve had the ability to roll up our sleeves get to work.”
Both agreed they are always ready to activate and deploy if called upon.
“For us, this rotation gave those of us in non-medical fields just as much of an opportunity to train and exercise our areas of expertise as the combat medics in the unit,” Walker said. “For me, that’s what made this the best annual training I’ve participated in to date.”