|By Maj. Mat Lawrence, 807th Medical Command
(Deployment Support) Public Affairs
B Company of the 452nd Combat Support Hospital had a common dilemma when
planning its annual training for 2011. The company had been tasked for
numerous overseas training missions, but had to make training plans for
the remaining Soldiers not traveling overseas.
Soldiers from the 452nd Combat
Support Hospital train on moving simulated litter patients at
the Combat Litter Course at Fort McCoy.
(Photo by 1st Lt. Dustin Kinzinger)
The solution was one the Army Reserve wants units to use more. B
Company conducted a two-week annual training with one full week of
assistance by Regional Training Site-Medical (RTS-MED) at Fort
“The RTS-MED folks were sitting alone by themselves at our YTB
(yearly training brief) waiting for someone to talk to them,” said
Capt. Thaddeus Wiitanen, Executive Officer for B Company.
Wiitanen had heard earlier from the Army Reserve Ambassador for
Wisconsin Gerald Meyer that RTS-MED was an under-used asset that
offered outstanding services for training, so he approached them and
asked how they could help.
The company had a number of training objectives to address. Many of
the medical Soldiers not going overseas mostly had been left out.
In addition, there were a number of new Soldiers who had not worked
together before. “I noticed a lot of new people,” said Wiitanen.
“Nobody knew how to put up a hospital anymore.”
In fact, Soldiers that had been there for years may have had trouble
as well. B Company had not established a field hospital since 2004.
RTS-MED offered B Company several advantages.
First, the training required little logistical support from the
company because RTS-MED was able to supply it.
But most importantly, all B Company had to do was outline its training
objectives to RTS-MED and leave the planning of the training to RTS-MED,
leaving much less to coordinate.
Spc. Elizabeth Corona (center) of
B Company, 452nd Combat Support Hospital is detained as a
combative during a hospital drill. Sgt. Marco Torres of the
4203rd Army Hospital (left) and Spc. Thomas Byers of B Company,
452nd train on detainee operations.
(Photo by 1st Lt. Dustin Kinzinger)
“We take away a lot of the confusion,” said Pat Welch, Training
Lead Contractor for RTS-MED. “It seems a lot smoother when we run an
Welch said the RTS-MED equipment can cover any type of medical unit
with tents, hospitals, vehicles, simulators, and clinical sets.
Units can use the facilities at Fort McCoy, or the trainers can come
to the units themselves.
However, the best part is the cost. “We’re free,” and don’t cost the
units anything, said Welch.
Planning quality training with RTS-MED usually takes three- to six
months of coordination, although they have reacted on short notice
in the past. But the most important thing is for a unit to
understand what their objectives are from the start.
“When it’s a large group, it (the problem) is not so much of what
they need, but the unit figuring out what they want,” said Greg
Roberts, Clinical Coordinator and Training Supervisor Contractor for
RTS-MED. Roberts said companies often approach RTS-MED with one set
of training objectives and continually revise them as time goes by.
The commanders either get new requirements from their headquarters
or they change their minds about their intent, causing last-minute
RTS-MED helps add creativity to training scenarios. B Company, after
establishing a hospital, had to operate it as the RTS-MED trainers
threw various simulated situations at them, including attacks and
“Nothing was ‘notional’ in this training,” said Wiitanen, citing a
common practice where Soldiers “assume” they complete an action
because real infrastructure outside the exercise does not exist in a
The Soldiers of B Company enjoyed the ability to do things that were
a little different. In addition to the common training units perform
such as physical fitness tests and weapons qualification, RTS-MED
added a litter obstacle course, medical “lanes” where medics
performed treatment scenarios, an advanced combat life-saver course,
medic qualification training, and of course, the hospital exercise.
The training did expose a common problem among Soldiers who have not
worked together for long — communication.
“Getting information out and making sure everyone was where they
were supposed to be was the hardest part,” said Capt. Kathy Seifarth,
a B Company nurse involved in the training.
Welch and Roberts didn’t know why RTS-MED is not fully used. They
are busy during the spring and summer training seasons from April
through September at Fort McCoy, but RTS-MED personnel also can
travel to the units’ locations to provide training.
“We’re happy to have people come, and we do make house calls,” said