With the Army Guard in Mongolia (Part 2)
By Julia Barklow, 176th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 28, 2008
CAMP FIVE HILLS, Mongolia -- Who do you call when you need a modular hospital system? The Expeditionary Medical System (EMEDS) team out of Brooks AFB, Texas might be your best bet.
Just ask the Mongolians. They took delivery of their new "basic" modular system -- which resembles several tan Quonset huts linked together -- during the Khaan Quest 2008 exercise here at Camp Five Hills. "Basic," in this case, means the system has a footprint of a command center, an emergency room and an operating room. Other options are called a '+10', meaning that additional specialty modules can be added to the basic configuration.
"EMEDS is predicated on getting the patient out of a hostile environment," said Colonel Elizabeth Clark, a member of the EMEDS team. The patient can then be transported to a standing medical facility providing long-term care. The facility is designed to stabilize the patient; the operating room is only for salvage and resuscitation surgeries, according to Clark.
"The beauty of EMEDS is that it breaks down in modules," Clark said. "Each module modifies the system to fit its application. If the EMEDS team knows what they are doing, they can break their system down and move it in up to five hours."
The challenge, she said, is finding personnel who are cross-functional; meaning a surgeon might find him- or herself setting a broken bone.
"A lot of people don't like being outside their comfort zone," Colonel Clark said. That faction sends people back to their early days in medical training, before they specialized, and they do just fine according to Colonel Clark.
In order to train customers who purchase the EMEDS, the team from Brooks AFB, travels to all corners of the world. When they delivered to the Mongolians at Khaan Quest 2008, they provided several training classes, ultimately winding down with a mock casualty scenario in which the newly trained personnel respond to several orchestrated medical emergencies in their new EMEDS.
However, just before the first scenario, one of the Mongolian medics fainted, and they were suddenly utilizing their hours-old training in a real-world situation.
"There's nothing like kicking off with a real-world situation to get the blood pumping," said Lt. Col. Caroline Samuolis, a 711th Flight Nurse who just crossed her 20th year on the training team for the EMEDS.