Medical readiness training through the pandemic
By Staff Sgt. Amanda Stanford, 59th Medical Wing
/ Published October 05, 2021
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-CAMP BULLIS, Texas -- The 59th Medical Readiness Training Center continues to provide the highest level of training for medics across the Air Force Medical Service prior to deployment as well as ensuring skills remain current.
MRTC offers five full-spectrum medical readiness training courses for all levels of medical knowledge, from brand-new AFMS Airmen to experienced surgeons.
While the COVID-19 pandemic may have slowed the MRTC mission, instructors found a safe way to continue training.
“Maintaining a safe and healthy environment for ourselves and our members has always been a top priority,” said Tech. Sgt. Edwin Origel, Patient Decontamination Course supervisor. “We took a small pause in providing courses while we developed a plan to successfully carry out our mission. After careful and deliberate consideration, courses were put back online with certain limitations. Keeping our medics ready remains an uncompromisable priority.”
One of the courses offered at the MRTC is the Patient Decontamination Course which teaches and refreshes AF medics on technical decontamination procedures in case of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incident.
“Our DECON training is vital to the Air Force mission,” said Origel. “Our medics are the best in their functional areas of work, and DECON is an additional training that a small number of members are privileged to perform. When a DECON team stands up, they play a vital role in keeping the medical treatment facilities free of possible contamination.”
Prior to the pandemic, the course was offered once per quarter, but the team saw a need and an opportunity and took it.
“With a higher demand of members needing this specialized training coupled with many COVID-imposed restrictions, we saw a chance to be innovative and took it,” said Origel. “With travel restrictions across the AFMS, we capitalized on training our very own medics here at the 59th Medical Wing. This allowed us to continue our minimum output of students while conducting an additional course.”
The DECON course instructors have been vital in saving lives by continuing to train and equip AF medics with necessary skills for deployment and contingency operations.
“Without DECON teams, medical professionals are at a higher risk for injury,” said Origel. “We need our medics at their best to return our warriors back to the fight!”