[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                     March 28, 2008

Reserve unit conducts premob 
medical training

By Tom Michele, The Real McCoy Contributor

      "We have to make sure we have all of the medical supplies necessary to take care of Soldier patients to get them back to the battlefield as soon as possible or back to a rear area combat support hospital (CSH)."

Photo: Pvt. Prince Brumfield (foreground) and Spc. Amaris Harris of the 427th Medical Logistics Company, work on making prescription eyeglasses. (Photo by Tom Michele)
Pvt. Prince Brumfield (foreground) and Spc. Amaris Harris of the 427th Medical Logistics Company, work on making prescription eyeglasses. (Photo by Tom Michele)

      That's the way Master Sgt. Lanita Thomas described her duty and her unit's mission with the 427th Medical Logistics Company based at Fort Gillem, near Atlanta. It is a U.S. Army Reserve outfit.

      Thomas is one of 47 Soldiers from the 427th who did their extended combat (ECT) training at Fort McCoy March 1-15 as pre-mobilization training. The unit will spend 400 days in South central Asia starting this summer.

     "We will have 80 of our unit's Soldiers with us on our mobilization," she said. Thomas, who will serve on the deployment as the unit's first sergeant. She is an Active Guard and Reserve Soldier, with her home in Ellenwood, Ga. She is the 427th Medical Logistics Battalion (MLB) Operations NCOIC.

      Capt. Bridgette Long Turner, company commander, from Birmingham, Ala., and also on the ECT tour at McCoy, said, "Our company's mission is to provide theater-level supply, medical repair parts, medical maintenance and optical fabrication in support of Central Command's Area of Operation." She performs her drills at Fort Gillem.

      That means, as Turner explained, providing medical supplies to support CSHs with 20,000 different items, starting with Band-Aids for the CSHs and also for ground ambulance companies and evacuation battalions.

      "We have biomedical specialists who repair all medical equipment in-theater, such as electrocardiogram machines and computerized tomography machines," she said.

      The optical fabrication section provides regular eye glasses for Soldiers and also inserts for the NBC masks.

      At McCoy, Turner said, the 427th Soldiers ran a medical logistics warehouse, which included a 100-percent inventory prior to starting operations, and taking medical supplies orders from customers such as CSHs and ambulance units. "We ensure medical supplies are packed, loaded, shipped, properly stored and distributed to our customers in a timely manner."

      Moreover she ensures the tactical operations center supports the company's mission, which encompasses personnel communications, security and accountability as well as operating a medical supplies warehouse.

      Soldiers from the 427th  MLB load medical supplies on Air Force aircraft as part of their tasks. Most of the supplies are packaged in standard pallet-sized boxes and on pallets for ease of using forklift trucks.

      Strap slings are used on many of the palletized boxes as lifts also are used to be hung below helicopters for transport.

     "As we fill requests by our customers, we also do a replenishment of our supplies so we are ready for the next requests," Turner said.

      As for the importance of her mission, Turner simply said, "Safety and competence." She further said, "Competence is knowing your job. Our primary objective is to provide medical support and supplies to meet our customers' needs and develop a customer relationship with them. That means I can please my customers and have an effective operation by having supplies on-hand and meeting my customers' demands."

    Turner's civilian occupation is being  a human resources professional at the University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham.

      Thomas noted the importance of her work as, "Without medical logistics, you can't take care of Soldiers down range or at home. So, as a medical logistician, we are to make sure we provide quality medical supplies to our customers, to meet their needs in a timely manner so they can complete their mission."

     Thomas also said, "What this all means to me, as a senior NCO, is to make sure my Soldiers are trained efficiently to meet our customers' needs."

      This summer's deployment will be the first for both Soldiers. 

(Michele is a public affairs specialist for Eagle Systems and Services Inc., contractor for CONUS Support Base Services.)


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