By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Samantha A. Lewis, Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO - Throughout the month of March and April, 20 Navy reservists deployed aboard the USNS COMFORT (T-AH 20) in support of Continuing Promise 2011.
Reservists typically work one weekend each month plus two weeks a year, but for 700 reservists assigned to Operational Health Support Unit San Diego Naval Medical Center San Diego (OHSU SD NMCSD) they must remain qualified and ready to deploy 365 days a year.
The reservists at OHSU SD are separated into two groups. Five-hundred are divided into various medical units throughout California, Arizona, Hawaii and U.S. territory Guam. The remaining two-hundred reservists are assigned to a virtual detachment; meaning they live across the U.S., but their mobilization assignment is to NMCSD. In addition to NMCSD, OHSU SD reservists provide contributory support to hospitals and clinics throughout Navy Medicine West to include Hawaii, Guam and Yokosuka, Japan.
NMCSD is the largest Military Treatment Facility (MTF) for reservists to drill. NMCSD trains nurses, doctors, dentists, hospital corpsmen (HM) and medical service corps professionals.
"NMCSD provides the training site for our medical reservists to train in the mobilization billets in case of deployment," said Capt. Eleanor Smith, commanding officer of OHSU SD.
When it comes to training the Navy holds reservists and active duty personnel to the same standards and must remain ready to deploy at any given time.
OHSU SD reservists attend NMCSD's Tactical Combat Causality Care (TCCC) Course a week-long course that helps to ensure personnel are equipped to manage common battlefield combat injuries. Another course requirement reservist attend is the Hospital Corpsman Skills Basic Course. This course reiterates the five basic skills all HMs are taught in 'A' school: physical assessment, phlebotomy, intravenous, medicine administration and treatment of shock and trauma.
"It is important that our reservists train like our active duty. They are operational just like active duty," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Erika A. Borden, Operational Support Office Leading Chief Petty Officer. "NMCSD is the ideal location for a reservist to train and prepare for any worldwide assignment."
This past year 27 OHSU SD reserve Sailors deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany; 30 reservists deployed in support of Pacific Partnership 2010 onboard USNS Mercy (T-AH-19); 40 participated in an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) exercise East Bay Stand Down in Alameda, Calif., providing medical and dental care to 400 homeless veterans; and 15 medical reservists participated in Medical Readiness Training exercises in Panama and Haiti.
"In the past month, 120 OHSU SD reservists participated in a week-long classroom and practical operational field exercise training at the Navy Expeditionary Medical Training Institute, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., to better prepare us for deployment," said Smith.
Sailors in the U.S. Navy reserve medical field have the unique advantage of knowing how both civilian and military hospitals operate.
"They can provide that link between military and civilian medicine and bring new ideas to the table for process improvement," said Borden.
Smith also commented on how she is impressed with the quality of reserve Sailors.
"I have never served with a more dedicated, educated, and caring group of medical professionals," said Smith. "Many devote several uncompensated hours to accomplish the OHSU SD, NMCSD and Navy Medicine West missions, sacrificing quality time with family and friends."
For more information please on NMCSD visit: http://nmcsd-as-spfe01/Pages/default.aspx.