[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                  February 22, 2008
Training

Soldiers train to repair biomedical equipment at RTS-Medical

By Rob Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff

      Soldiers whose military occupational specialty (MOS 68A) is to repair highly technical medical equipment participated in an intensive three-week premobilization Biomedical Equipment Technicians/Engineers training course at the Regional Training Site-Medical (RTS-Medical) at Fort McCoy to learn how to repair the Deploy-able Medical Systems and Theater Specific Equipment.

Photo: Soldiers in a Biomedical Equipment Technicians/Engineers training course at RTS-Maintenance train on the procedures to repair a ventilator (I-Vent 201). (Photo by Rob Schuette)
Soldiers in a Biomedical Equipment Technicians/Engineers training course at RTS-Maintenance train on the procedures to repair a ventilator (I-Vent 201). (Photo by Rob Schuette)

      Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert Kamp of the Medical Readiness Training Command of Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, said the equipment is used to support the extensive medical network in the Southwest Asia theater.

       "RTS-Medical at Fort McCoy is the only site that has Theater Specific Equipment at this time that's doing the training," said Kamp, who's serving as the technical adviser for the course. "They were chosen because they are a U.S. Army Reserve Power-Projection Platform and have mobilized several units."

      The training at Fort McCoy includes repairing equipment for oxygen generation, respiratory laboratory, X-ray, ventilators, and anesthesia, etc., he said.

      The equipment also lends itself to new technology and allows medical personnel in-theater to connect and interact with medical personnel in the United States to ensure the correct diagnoses are made.

      Personnel taking the training are very competent in their field because many of them work for major technical corporations, such as Toshiba, Phillips, etc., he said.

       Dean Tremble, an RTS-Medical Logistics Management specialist at Fort McCoy, said the training fits in well with the organization's mission to train medical personnel to do their mission during deployment.

       "This equipment also helps us train other medical personnel up to standard here," Tremble said. "They are ready to do (their mission) when they get deployed overseas."

      Spc. Edgard Niebles, a student, said although he works on this kind of equipment in his civilian employment the students get experience on the military equipment during this training.

      "We work with similar equipment, but it's totally different than it is in the field," he said. "Going through this training helps us get more comfortable with the military equipment."

      Spc. Jeremy Sonnier, also a student, said the training was a good refresher for him, and it helped familiarize him with specific uses of the equipment in a military setting.

      Some of the personnel don't see the equipment during their civilian jobs so it is great training that way, too, he said.

      "Many of the people here have worked in a specific field, such as X-rays, ventilators, etc., for (several years or more) so they are experts in those fields and can serve as subject-matter experts when deployed," Sonnier said. "Everyone has to know the basics of how to repair all of the equipment. The personnel here come from combat support hospitals or medical support activities so they can share their experiences there, too."

Photo: Soldiers in a Biomedical equipment training class at RTS-Medical train on the procedures to repair an anesthesia apparatus (Narkomed-M). (Photo by Rob Schuette)
Soldiers in a Biomedical equipment training class at RTS-Medical train on the procedures to repair an anesthesia apparatus (Narkomed-M). (Photo by Rob Schuette)

      Paul Simpson, the Integrated Logistics Team Supervisor for Eagle Group International, which provides contracted services for RTS-Medical, said the training helps prepare the repair technicians for equipment breakdowns in the field.

      The instructors receive information about equipment repair needs from personnel serving in-theater. Simpson said the instructors teach the proper steps to find equipment failures and perform equipment repairs.

      These Soldiers will continue to provide support services when they are in the field. RTS-Medical personnel will continue to teach the course as long as there are hospitals in the theaters of operations, he said.

      "The training helps the biomed technicians make the repairs quickly and accurately," he said. "It's a huge step forward for them to focus on the equipment and know their jobs before they get there."

      "It's a force multiplier," Tremble added. "The doctors and medical personnel could be the best in the world, but if the equipment doesn't work they're down to using a scalpel with a flashlight."

      Kamp said after Fort McCoy the personnel will go to Fort Dix, N.J., for further training on Soldier tasks, such as weapons qualification, convoy operations, infantry and defensive tactics, etc.

      The Soldiers, who mostly are in the enlisted ranks and come from throughout the Army Reserve, will deploy in the summer timeframe.

      "The Soldiers need to know combat skills because they will be members of mobile teams that will travel to the medical sites to repair equipment," he said. "If their convoys are attacked, they will need to know how to defend themselves."

      Chief Warrant Officer 3 Robert Greenhoe, the Health Services Maintenance Adviser for the U.S. Army Reserve Surgeon Office, said Kamp is a good person to help instruct the training because he has served in-theater and knows the issues and challenges that can arise in maintaining the medical equipment in a field environment.

      The RTS-Medical at Fort McCoy was chosen to host the training because it is a Reserve Power-Projection Platform and it has helped provide mobilization training to deploy many medical units, including reserve- and active-component personnel, Green-hoe said. The Army also has RTS-Medical sites that it uses to train Reserve Soldiers at Fort Gordon, Ga., Camp Parks, Calif., and Fort Polk, La.

      "Chief Kamp has firsthand knowledge of (maintenance and repair) issues in-theater," Green-hoe said, "and has been very proactive to see the right kind of training happens here."

 

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