Barnestormers train at Army hospital, save DoD thousands

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Camille Lienau
  • 104th Fighter Wing
Twenty-nine members from the 104th Fighter Wing Medical Group and 13 members from the 174th Attack Wing Medical Group completed hands-on Medical Field Annual Training at Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, April 25-May 4, 2022. This training allowed 104MDG and 174AW members the opportunity to provide support to an active duty military hospital, building their experience, readiness, and confidence along the way.

MFAT is a program focused on specific job training, readiness skills training, task completion, skill-level upgrade training, and unit-type-code sustainment training that cannot be accomplished at the home station facility. At TAMC, 104MDG members are able to apply what they learn through knowledge-based training to a real-live environment.

Several career fields trained at TAMC, including public health, medical administration, and aerospace medical service. Chief Master Sgt. Chester Bennett, 104MDG Superintendent assisted with the planning for this mission.

“This training benefits not only the Air National Guard but our local communities as well,'' said Bennett. “The results of a training event such as this give us the confidence as a medical group that our troops are equipped with the skills necessary to support any taskings whether they are military, humanitarian, stateside or overseas.”

Recent taskings have a significant impact on the health and well-being of civilians throughout the hospitals within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, he said.

104MDG members were spread throughout TAMC and received their hands-on training in areas of the hospital such as Labor and Delivery, Anesthesiology, Emergency, Intensive Care, Medical Records, and Medical Supply. Lt. Col. Anna Barrows, 104MDG Chief Nurse, planned the training schedule for the aerospace medical service technicians working at the hospital.

“What we want our members to gain from this is to really set in the ANG’s mission of creating well-trained troops,” said Barrows. “Troops who are able to promptly mobilize during wartime and provide assistance during national emergencies. What they are learning here is more of the bigger picture and their readiness operations.”

While working in the hospital, 104FW and 174AW members were under the supervision of Mr. Edwynn Johnson, TAMC Reserve Component Operations Specialist. Johnson manages the reserve training program and has been in charge of the program for 11 years. TAMC helps to train and shape members across all components and services because a trained and ready force is a prepared, efficient and effective force, he said.

In 2022 alone, he plans to see more than 400 members go through training at TAMC.

“Reserve Units training here at TAMC puts our staff in a position to share their knowledge, skills, and experiences, passing on what they know as well as gaining from those that they train,” said Johnson. “Often reserve members that arrive for training do not get the experience at their home station at the level that TAMC provides. I have also seen Reserve members that arrive and have special skill sets that TAMC is short of staff in and can help provide critical care,” he said.

With just over 40 ANG members working at TAMC, Johnson estimates that the medical group saved TAMC approximately $60,000 in overhead costs.

“Units that train at TAMC provide additional support to the facility, allowing for increased patient care,” Johnson said. “I hope that each member that participates in this program retains knowledge and skills that are an asset to them and the community in the event they are called on in an emergency situation in their community setting.”

Staff Sgt. Daniela Rizarri, 104MDG aerospace medical technician, was among those training at TAMC. She had the opportunity to work in the Mother and Baby section of the hospital, where she helped take care of new mothers and their infants and furthered her skills toward becoming a more seasoned multi-capable Airman.

Multi-capable Airmen accomplish tasks outside of their core Air Force Specialty. They are enabled by cross-utilization training and can operate independently in an expeditionary environment to accomplish mission objectives within acceptable levels of risk.

“Since we don’t have a treatment facility at Barnes, this is hands-on training for something I can’t do close to home,'' said Rizarri. “Although we don’t have a labor and delivery unit, these skills could be needed to help our neighboring allies.”

Airmen from the104MDG and 174AW public health office worked with Mike Leong, a TAMC entomologist, to conduct vector surveillance during the training. Vectors are insects or animals that transmit disease-producing organisms to humans. During the vector surveillance training, members set up mosquito traps called BG-Sentinels.

“The environmental health counterparts here with the Army have been so generous with their time and skills, teaching us so much,” said Senior Airman Hannah Jones-Trudeau, 104MDG public health technician. “The vector surveillance program is not only about knowing what the risks are on our base, but it’s also about being prepared to go down range where vectors can be enormous risks to our troops and can really affect morale and also our ability to move in a moment's notice. All of the training received here makes us more effective assets in a deployed environment,” she said.

Training at TAMC gave Airmen insight into different perspectives and ways of accomplishing tasks. Staff Sgt. Wesley Powell, 104 MDG public health technician and facility manager, received instruction on how to inspect locations for public health concerns, such as hair and nail salons, food trucks, an inground pool, and locker rooms which she would not get the opportunity to inspect at home station.

“From day one of coming here, we have seen so many different ways we can improve our base to be more efficient and better inspection-wise,” said Powell. “Logistically, they have to do different things than us. This is a perfect opportunity to see a whole other way that you can accomplish something and get ideas on how to be more efficient. They have different organizational tactics and ways that maybe we can combine,” she said.

Not only is this program an asset to the 104MDG and 174AW members, it is an enormous asset to TAMC, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the DoD. By conducting training at TAMC, members provide support to the hospital and gain the knowledge they need to bring back and better serve their communities.

Thanks to the extensive collaboration and planning between Bennett, Barrows, Johnson, and many others, the MFAT mission was able to bring our teams together to train and give the Air Force a more prepared, efficient, and effective force.