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MD medics make training look good on Caribbean Island

Video by Staff Sgt. Nelson Stroman, 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Article and photos by Staff Sgt. Michael Davis Jr., 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

SALINAS, PUERTO RICO – Medics with the Maryland Army National Guard’s 104th Area Support Medical Company had a chance to train amid mango trees, clear blue seas, and a warm breeze while providing medical coverage and support for the Puerto Rico National Guard during their annual training at Camp Santiago in Salinas, Puerto Rico, June 3-17, 2017.

Maryland Guard’s health care specialists, also known as combat medics, and five PRNG combat medics partnered and set up a functional 24-hour clinic to perform overall healthcare procedures that included dental services, x-ray and electrocardiogram (EKG) tests, and ambulatory care services. The health care specialists were also tasked with establishing day and evening walk-in times, known to the military as sick calls, to assist all service members on the installation with their specific medical needs.

In addition to running an operational clinic, the 104th ASMC also conducted traditional training to keep their medical skills up to par.

“During the day when we’re not running sick call we’re going to have medical training, so it will be anything from suturing, airway management, wound care, all types of stuff like that,” said 1st Sgt. Ronald D. Barbour, first sergeant of the 104th ASMC.

Barbour is used to running a medical facility in Maryland, but most of his Soldiers are not full-time medics in their civilian careers, so the only time they handle a tourniquet is when they show up for drill or at an annual training such as this one. It just so happens that they could test their medical skills on a Caribbean island.

However, rain or shine, rough terrain or sandy beaches, Capt. Jonathan Woodworth, a medical-surgical nurse with the 104th ASMC and a civilian nurse of seven years, said it was very important that the citizen soldiers received the medical training because it can help them save another service member’s life.

“It’s definitely critical to prevent further injuries or escalation of harm to a soldier in a training environment … and for esprit de corps, just keeping everyone motivated in a sense just to know that you have that type of support,” said Woodworth.

Spc. Rosa Adino, a health care specialist with the 104th ASMC, who was also raised in Puerto Rico, said she was very much motivated and appreciated the hands-on training she received from her unit while on her home-town island.

“I feel like if you enjoy it, it sticks with you more versus sitting in a classroom doing power point,” Adino said. “I really like the training here.”

In addition to conducting unit training, the 104th ASMC provided medical coverage to support various PRNG missions such as Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer – vehicle rollover training, convoy defense training, rappel training, land navigation, and weapons qualifications at the range.

“Ultimately, we’re trying to support them in every medical endeavor they have to ensure that this is a safe annual training and that we also provide them with any resources they may need,” Barbour said.

The Maryland Guard medics worked hard with the PRNG medics, but during their down time –when they were not training to save lives – the medics were able to eat arroz con pollo (rice with chicken), visit the beaches, and see the city of San Juan, which is a one and a half drive north of Salinas.

“It’s definitely different,” said Adino about training in Puerto Rico. “It’s a change in scenery … how many times can someone say that they’ve seen wild horses while walking to the chow hall?”

Maryland Guard Medics Make Training Look Good on Caribbean Island