By Staff Sgt. Sara Csurilla
51st Fighter Wing
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea - Nearly 40 airmen from the 121st Medical Group from Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Columbus, Ohio, recently arrived here to team up with members of the 51st Medical Group (MDG).
The team, compromised of doctors and medical technicians, came to Osan to help airmen for the 51st MDG train and to set up an expeditionary medical system (EMEDS).
“We’re here for EMEDS training and to help exercise and inventory the EMEDS here for the 7th Air Force and the 51st MDG,” said Col. Michelle Gavin, 121st MDG commander.
The 51st Flight Wing has three core missions: defend Osan, execute combat operations and receive follow-on forces. As the 40 airmen from the Ohio ANG arrived in the middle of Exercise Beverly Bulldog 13-02, members of the 51st MDG used the opportunity to realistically train on receiving those follow-on forces.
“We used this visit to practice receiving those bodies,” said Col. Rawson Wood, 51st MDG commander, and 7th AF surgeon serving for all Air Force medical forces on the Korean peninsula.
“It allowed 40 members to arrive to the base under contingency operations and get in-processed and then to arrive in the MDG and reinforce the approximately 300 airmen serving in the hospital. It was really key to receive these forces in the middle of the exercise to practice one of our three core missions.”
After in-processing and providing support to the 51st MDG, the team headed to Suwon Air Base, just a few miles north of Osan to a set up an EMEDS.
“[We’re setting up EMEDS] to ensure this could be a functioning system in case something happened here on the Korean peninsula that it needed to be used in a contingency operation,” Wood said. “So if something was to happen on the peninsula where they needed to set up a hospital very quickly, and the equipment wasn’t inventoried and maintained then it wouldn’t be ready.”
As part of setting up the EMEDS, the 40-man team built a tent from the ground up that would be used to house the temporary hospital, tested and inventoried more than 1,000 pieces of equipment worth more than $1 million and ran through a few training scenarios to ensure the faculties were functional.
“I’m really enjoying being here and doing this mission,” said Senior Airman Megan Betts, 121st MDG technician. “We are a part of Homeland Response Force back home, and we do a lot of EMEDS training there but coming out to Korea and training really helps with getting a feel for being in different environments.”
The group of guard members stayed for more than a week and took advantage of their time here by doing as much training as possible and experiencing South Korea to fully understand how important it is to be prepared and trained because something could happen here at any time.
“[My favorite part about this mission] is the teamwork and I love the capability that I can look at almost 40 professionals who I’ve never met before and not just by the uniform they wear, but by their capabilities and their past experiences I know that these are medics who I would trust to care for me or any of my loved ones in peace time or contingency time,” Wood said.