FORT LEE, Va. –
FORT LEE, Va. – Medical personnel from Kenner Army Health Clinic "exceeded expectations" while taking part in a first-time field training exercise here March 8-10. The FTX included urban rifle marksmanship, trauma scenarios, and the treatment and evacuation of casualties.
"I was proud to see Kenner leaders bring this vision to reality and give our Soldiers a level of combat readiness training and team cohesiveness they have not previously experienced at this location," observed Lt. Col. M. Jordan Inman, KAHC commander, at the conclusion of the FTX.
"It was great to see our experienced Soldiers coaching and teaching the young medics and techs, and to see the excitement resulting from this realistic readiness training at Fort Lee," he added. "I'm thankful for our great civilian teammates who continued to serve our patients like family while our Soldiers trained for their wartime missions."
The vision for an event that allowed Soldiers to shoot, move, communicate and perform field medical skills was born during Army Medical Command's Semi-Annual Training Briefs conducted late last year. Kenner's Senior Enlisted Advisor, Master Sgt. Ryan F. O'Connell, and Medical Company Commander Capt. Javier Colon developed the idea to build on experiences and lessons learned while leading weapons ranges and medical training over the previous 18 months.
Over that time, the medical company developed internal capabilities including certified range safety officers, ammo handlers, and tactical vehicle drivers to enable the unit to conduct the range solely with Kenner Soldiers. Leaders also spent significant effort training and validating range safeties for Urban Rifle Marksmanship to mitigate risk of the increased complexity of the reflexive fire scenarios. Integrating medical skills training with marksmanship scenarios tied the whole event together.
"Planning for the FTX took about six months," Colon said. "Noncommissioned officers from across Kenner were selected to lead portions of the training. They developed the plan and continued refining it into the finished product, which incorporated individual critical tasks for Soldiers of each MOS and AOC at Kenner."
The senior leaders further noted how Kenner reached out to the Fort Lee community to make the FTX a success.
"The only things we brought to the table for this event were the expertise, expendable medical supplies, and our military personnel. Our CASCOM teammates supported everything else," Colon said.
Echo Company, 832nd Ordnance Battalion supplied advanced individual training Soldiers who served as litter carriers and role-playing casualties. "They were among the key players that made the evolution a success," Colon emphasized.
The 508th Transportation Company and Quartermaster TRADOC Organic Medical Support teams assisted with equipped vehicles, M4 weapons, an ambulance, and medical equipment sets.
Sgt. Caitlin Eick, an x-ray technician, assigned to Kenner's Radiology department since 2018, said it was her first time being a part of an FTX.
"I learned so much," she confirmed. "The exercise helped me understand the importance of each medic's role in the scenarios and how we can help each other in this type of medical environment. I learned how the medics and doctors triage and determine the most life-threatening injuries. It was a great experience for me to get to know other military colleagues I have only seen in passing for years, and we now have greater capability to work together as a team."
Colon explained that Soldiers are spread throughout Kenner, and each has its own specialty. He stressed that this training helped them build relationships and served as an opportunity to step out of the box to keep motivation high and comradery going.
The captain further acknowledged the civilian staff members at Kenner who "filled the gaps and made sure everything ran smoothly" while the Soldiers were training.
"Soldiers at Kenner are not necessarily there to run the facility at 100 percent," Colon pointed out. "We have a lot of things going on in the world now. Kenner is here to provide trained and ready medical forces. Our soldiers can and do deploy. What is Kenner going to do? Well, we practiced that this week. We scaled down the patient template so the training mission could go on, and civilians made the healthcare mission go on."
According to Colon, the Kenner team will continue to build upon this first exercise and make the training better and more diverse. Kenner is using the after-action review to plan for future FTXs semi-annually.