SOUTHWEST ASIA, Dec. 25, 2019 —
When she arrived, she knew patient care was critical, but without a fully functioning clinic, the challenge became a matter of how and when.
For the 1st Expeditionary Rescue Group, there were challenges that could not wait. When Airmen need to be healthy to rescue other Department of Defense personnel, Staff Sgt. Mycala Stedingh, 26th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron independent duty medical technician assigned to the 1 ERQG, started a journey to build a clinic.
For this endeavor, it took a village.
The original clinic, housed in a tent, moved to a relocatable building. Once in the new building, Stedingh got to work.
“Everything was in boxes,” said Stedingh. “It took me three weeks to get the clinic setup and put everything on the shelf.”
It took her three days to wipe sand and dust off boxes to start her inventory.
This is where the challenge began.
She found expired items, basic necessities missing or broken. To fix the issues, she connected with Staff Sgt. Zachary Schussler, 52nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron medical logistician, who changed the flow of the supply chain.
“I researched and worked with the 332d Expeditionary Medical Group and Air Force Medical Readiness Office to setup a priority on blood lines for our Rescue Airmen,” said Schussler.
Having whole units of blood on standby are critical items required for the 1 ERQG to effectively conduct personnel recovery missions or mass casualties. Col. Garrison, 332 EMDG commander, worked with the 1 ERQG to help set-up a Theater Medical Data Store account to order blood.
Garrison linked up with the U.S. Central Command Blood Program Manager and 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar medical logistics to do periodic air drops for the Rescue teams.
“The 1 ERQG needs blood so they are ready to provide high-level trauma medical care during any combat mission,” Garrison said. “This team works extremely hard to save lives very quickly and we are extremely grateful for them.”
The next phase was finding out what else the group needed.
The medical Airmen who jumped in to support were Master Sgt. Gueston, 332 EMDG Medical Operations NCOIC of outreach operations, and Master Sgt. Hemby, 332 EMDG Medical Support flight chief.
Gueston went to the 1 ERQG to look at the clinic’s programs and to advise on what was needed.
“I discovered some supplies and equipment that was inoperable or missing,” said Gueston. “I got with Master Sgt. Hemby to get supplies as soon as possible for their team.”
From that point, Hemby and her team got to work with immediate supply needs.
“We got a list from Staff Sgt. Stedingh and boxed up items like gloves, gauze, ice packs and pharmaceuticals,” said Hemby. “Once we got the box ready, Airmen came to the 332d and picked it up.”
This partnership lead to a temporary, yet faster way to get supplies for the Rescue Airmen.
“We are working with U.S. Air Forces Central Command to get them an account for supplies,” said Hemby. “Right now, we order the supplies for them, but in time they will have the ability to order supplies directly to them. We have an open line of communication with the Rescue team, whatever they need we’re going to help them out.”
For Gueston and Hemby helping the Rescue team, the challenge turned from complicated to rewarding.
“My experience was great being able to see the group’s mission,” said Gueston. “It made me appreciate what they do.”
To keep the Rescue Airmen healthy, both teams, the 1 ERQG and 332 EMDG, were able to help get the group equipped and medically ready.
“We [1 ERQG and 332 EMDG] looked at the challenges and took action,” said Schussler. “We cut the time to get supplies from four to six months, down to once a month, thanks to the 332 EMDG.”
Because the teams connected, the supply flow improved. And with that, a higher quality of medical care.
“The facility allows us to handle more patients in less time, because we know exactly where everything is,” said Stedingh. “Also, we have an uninterrupted working space that provides significant patient privacy.”
The 1ERQG medical team’s morale was the icing on the cake when everything came together.
“We’re now able to provide exceptional support for a phenomenal Rescue Group,” said Schussler. “What they do so that others may live is amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better career to be a part of.”
After coordinating, equipping and partnering to make the medical mission fluid and efficient, the one thing Stedingh mentioned was how much her work means to the overall 1 ERQG mission.
“I love Rescue,” said Stedingh. “You can see the outcome and get to hear some of the stories of how we help our brothers and sisters.”
Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing website.