Joint MEDEX streamlines patient care

U.S. Army Capt. Gregory Lacy, 228th Combat Support Hospital urologist, center, assists U.S. Army Col. George Newton, 228th CSH general surgeon, right, while Spc. Marinel Armstead, 228th CSH surgical scrub technician, left, observes during MEDEX 16 at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 24, 2016.  During the medical exercise, Soldiers integrated with Airmen to train for responding to potential real world contingency operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Araceli Alarcon)

U.S. Army Capt. Gregory Lacy, 228th Combat Support Hospital (CSH) urologist, center, assists U.S. Army Col. George Newton, 228th CSH general surgeon, right, while Spc. Marinel Armstead, 228th CSH surgical scrub technician, left, observes during medical exercise (MEDEX) 16 at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 24, 2016. During MEDEX 16, Soldiers integrated with Airmen to train for responding to potential real world contingency operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Araceli Alarcon)

U.S. Army and Air Force medics observe a surgery during MEDEX 16, a medical exercise held at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 24, 2016.  The patient had surgery on his back to remove a mass from his body. MEDEX 16 provided a unique training opportunity, enhancing the capabilities of its participants by using real patients instead of scenario based ones. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Araceli Alarcon)

U.S. Army and Air Force medics observe a surgery during medical exercise (MEDEX) 16 held at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 24, 2016. The patient had surgery on his back to remove a mass from his body. MEDEX 16 provided a unique training opportunity, enhancing the capabilities of its participants by using real patients instead of scenario based ones. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Araceli Alarcon)

U.S. Army Capt. Gregory Lacy, 228th Combat Support Hospital urologist, assists U.S. Army Col. George Newton, 228th CSH general surgeon, with closing an incision during MEDEX 16, a medical exercise held at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 24, 2016. MEDEX 16 built upon the concept of evacuating patients to Misawa AB during contingency operations by integrating Air Force and Army capabilities and expanding the ability of Misawa's medical treatment facility to care for patients. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Araceli Alarcon)

U.S. Army Capt. Gregory Lacy, 228th Combat Support Hospital (CSH) urologist, assists U.S. Army Col. George Newton, 228th CSH general surgeon, with closing an incision during medical exercise (MEDEX) 16 held at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 24, 2016. MEDEX 16 built upon the concept of evacuating patients to Misawa during contingency operations by integrating Air Force and Army capabilities and expanding the ability of Misawa's medical treatment facility to care for patients. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Araceli Alarcon)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nandieboy Merjilla, an orthopedic technician, left, Airman 1st Class Thor Shaefer, a surgical technician, center, both assigned to the 35th Medical Group, and U.S. Army Sgt. Marco Martinez, a surgical technician with the 228th Combat Support Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, share surgical techniques while setting up the surgical back table for surgery during MEDEX 16 at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 25, 2016. Back tables hold medical instrumentation which are prepared by technicians who hand the doctors the tools to be used during a surgery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nandieboy Merjilla, an orthopedic technician, left, and Airman 1st Class Thor Shaefer, a surgical technician, center, both assigned to the 35th Medical Group, and U.S. Army Sgt. Marco Martinez, a surgical technician with the 228th Combat Support Hospital in San Antonio, Tex., share surgical techniques while setting up the surgical back table for surgery during medical exercise (MEDEX) 16 at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 25, 2016. Back tables hold medical instruments which are prepared by technicians who hand the doctors the tools to be used during a surgery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Edward Ha, a registered nurse and anesthetist assigned to the 35th Medical Group, tests the nerve blockage in a patient’s right arm with a nerve stimulant during MEDEX 16, a medical exercise held at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 25, 2016. The nerve stimulant verifies the correct area that surgeons need to operate on as well as provides less pain for the patient post-surgery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Edward Ha, a registered nurse and anesthetist assigned to the 35th Medical Group, tests the nerve blockage in a patient’s right arm with a nerve stimulant during medical exercise (MEDEX) 16 held at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 25, 2016. The nerve stimulant verifies the correct area that surgeons need to operate on as well as provides less pain for the patient post-surgery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Army and Air Force medics observe a monitor while conducting a surgical operation during MEDEX 16, a medical exercise held at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 25, 2016. The training enabled Army and Air Force medical staff to work together and exchange surgical techniques, while saving approximately $250,000 by eliminating the need to send the patients to outside care facilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Army and Air Force medics observe a monitor while conducting a surgical operation during medical exercise (MEDEX) 16 held at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 25, 2016. The training enabled Army and Air Force medical staff to work together and exchange surgical techniques, while saving approximately $250,000 by eliminating the need to send the patients to outside care facilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

U.S. Airmen with the 35th Medical Group, Misawa Air Base, Japan and Soldiers with the 228th Combat Support Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, completed a joint medical exercise Aug. 26.

 

During MEDEX 16, Soldiers integrated their assets, personnel and procedures with Airmen, increasing the capabilities of Misawa's medical treatment facility with more medical professionals, supplies and services, while also providing training for potential contingency operations.

 

"Our operational readiness plan requires us to be able to expand the capabilities of the hospital," said Air Force Maj. Wendy Wilkins, surgical services flight commander assigned to the 35th Medical Group. "This includes the [228th CSH] coming and back filling us, if a disaster happens requiring us to stand up a combat hospital at Misawa."

 

The training started Aug. 22 with introductions, medical orientations and the pairing of Air Force and Army counterparts to work shifts at the hospital together. Over the next two days, the Army medics worked alongside Airmen taking in patients and providing patient care. The final two days consisted of the exercise portion, where the effectiveness of integrating Army medical staff was evaluated.

 

The end result was the enhancement of U.S. Army and Air Force medics' ability to work together and streamline medical processes to provide better care for their patients.

 

"It's not just about bringing over Army procedures and how we do things; we also learned how the Air Force operates and how [Airmen] do their jobs as well," said Army Capt. D'Andrea Buggs, a medical surgical nurse assigned to the 228th CSH. "It gave us a chance to learn how we work together and learn how we're going to operate with each other [in the future]."

 

In addition to Army doctors and nurses, a group of Army biomedical technicians were in attendance to learn from their counterparts and handle any equipment issues.

 

"There are four of us BMEDS here to do maintenance support," said Army Sgt. Brandon Swanner, a biomedical equipment repair technician assigned to the 228th CSH. "I was able to pick apart the Air Force BMED's minds and see how they go about handling their equipment maintenance and supporting their medical teams in situations like joint missions."

 

MEDEX 16 provided other unique opportunities for the participants, including training with real patients rather than scenario based ones. The presence of Army medical experts allowed for additional surgeries to take place at Misawa, saving costs and eliminating the need to send patients elsewhere for treatment.

 

"We provided 22 surgeries with a savings of $256,000 in services for our patients that we usually cannot provide in our facility," said Wilkins. "Having a plastic surgeon, a urologist and a hands specialist coming into our facility made a huge difference."

 

Over the course of two weeks, MEDEX 16 provided not only medical training and experiences, but also created friendships and comraderies across services.

 

"It was a wonderful experience and a valuable sharing of resources and manpower with many lessons learned for further training opportunities and disaster contingency operations," added Wilkins.