EMEDS maintains readiness posture

Host nation distinguished visitors watch a simulated ambulance loading and unloading during the 86th Medical Group’s exercise Maroon Surge Community Outreach Day on Ramstein Air Base, June 7, 2018. The visitors also received a tour of an Expeditionary Medical System, from the diagnosis room to the surgery room. The 86th MDG designed Community Outreach Day to educate the public on their life-saving capabilities and also invite them to participate in saving lives by donating blood and bone marrow. Photo by Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker

Expeditionary Medical Support (EMEDS), an 86th Medical Group asset, remains postured and ready at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, should the capability be needed to help save lives during the current pandemic.

Since COVID-19 developed into a global issue, the 86th MDG has balanced readiness to support contingency operations with providing rapid humanitarian assistance using EMEDS.

“The 86th Medical Group stands ready to support our allies and joint partners across the European and African theater in the fight to stop further spread of COVID-19,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Cody J. Hess, 86th Medical Support Squadron commander.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Ricardo Aldahondo, middle, 86th Medical Support Squadron Resource Management Flight commander, gives a tour of an Air Force Expeditionary Medical System (EMEDS) to host nation distinguished visitors during the 86th Medical Group’s exercise Maroon Surge Community Outreach Day on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, June 7, 2018. An EMEDS is a deployable medical unit, like a tent-hospital, that is fully equipped and has rooms that can be added and removed. Ramstein welcomed visitors to tour the facilities to educate the public about Air Force capabilities, promote openness and strengthen relations. Photo by Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker

EMEDS is a combatant commander capability, supported by personnel from five medical squadrons that fall under the 86th MDG: 86th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, 86th Dental Squadron, 86th Medical Squadron, 86th Medical Operation Squadron and 86th Medical Support Squadron.

The modular and scalable capability is tent-based, providing versatility and agile combat support that can also be used for humanitarian assistance.

“The advantage of EMEDS is the ability to deploy medical capabilities ranging from small teams that provide highly skilled medical care for a limited number of casualties, to a large medical system that can provide more specialized care to a population at risk of up to 6,500 with resupply,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Amy Riley, 86th MDG superintendent.

The 86th MDG medical readiness flight ensures that all active-duty Air Force medics across the 86th MDG and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center are trained and ready, including those assigned to EMEDS.

“To ensure our teams are ready now, a collaborative effort is required between the individual member and our office to ensure all requirements are met before we send our medics out the door to support any contingency operation,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Andres Martinez Morillo, 86th MDG medical readiness flight chief.

Additionally, the 86th MDSS medical logistics team is well versed in mobilizing the EMEDS capability as seen in exercises Immediate Response (Slovenia) 2016, Maroon Surge (Ramstein) 2018, and Vigorous Warrior (Romania) 2019.

Airmen from the 86th Medical Group, Ramstein Air Base, prepare Role 2 (field hospital) expeditionary medical support facilities at Cincu Military Base, Romania, April 4, 2019, during exercise Vigorous Warrior 19. Vigorous Warrior 19 was NATO’s largest-ever military medical exercise, uniting more than 2,500 participants from 39 countries to exercise experimental doctrinal concepts and test their medical assets together in a dynamic, multinational environment. Photo by 1st Lt. Andrew Layton

These training operations allowed the EMEDS team to exercise the capability and strengthen their interoperability with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and joint partners across various training scenarios, Hess said.

Recently, 86th MDSS medical logistics rapidly assembled and shipped three aircraft pallets of medical supplies as part of a COVID-19 humanitarian relief package to Italy.

“This package provided the Italian Ministry of Defense the ability to temporarily stage patients as they flow through the health system via aeromedical evacuation,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Drew Robinson, 86th MDSS medical logistics superintendent. “This allows us to provide short-term, complex medical-surgical nursing care and limited, emergent interventions.”

The 86th MDG remains ready to provide EMEDS when called on and continues to ensure the safety of both patients and their own personnel.

In order to protect others during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 86th MDG has implemented several layers of safety by following the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, Hess said.

Tech. Sgt. Christopher Sarchioto, 86th Medical Group, Ramstein Air Base Germany, prepares an expeditionary medical support system (EMEDS) at Cincu Military Base, Romania, April 4, 2019, during exercise Vigorous Warrior 19. EMEDS are modular field hospitals designed to be deployed and fully operational within six hours of arrival in an area of responsibility.
U.S. Air Force photo

The implemented guidance ensures that proper screening and use of personal protective equipment is in place to minimize risk of COVID-19 exposure to healthcare teams and patients.

Furthermore, staff schedules were implemented to preserve both medical services here at Ramstein and medical combat support capability across three combatant commands, Hess said.

“The fight against COVID-19 is a team effort, and it takes all of us to prevent the spread of this aggressive virus,” Hess said. “Physical distancing, practicing good hand washing and teaming up with your medics will help us achieve the goal of protecting the force and preserving combat power.”