Keesler medics attend Vibrant Response

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgts. Norites Bittig and Cassandra Cruz
  • 81st Dental Squadron and 81st Medical Group
Twelve members of the 81st Medical Group traveled to Camp Atterbury, Ind., to support a week-long Army North exercise, Aug. 11-17.

The exercise, Vibrant Response 13, validated joint-service response operations by testing defense chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and enhanced conventional weapons response force plans using the 81st Expeditionary Medical Support task force liaison officer and Army personnel to coordinate relief efforts with Task Force Aviation and Task Force Operations under Joint Task Force Civil Support.

This was a critical planning exercise that primarily used "what if" or "what are the possibilities" scenarios that might come up in a real-world incident. The team learned Army terminology, processes, customs and courtesies which are all critical in a joint environment.

In addition, participants were able to share and learn how key players, whether experts in logistics, medical or administrative support, would handle and up-channel specific situations. This enhanced the 81st MDG's disaster plan and process-response capabilities.

"Our team was simply superb," said Col. (Dr.) Howard Roberts, 81st Dental Squadron and 81st EMEDS commander for this exercise. "They reacted correctly and efficiently to every scenario that Army North threw at us. We not only easily gained recertification but also led the way for the other two EMEDS teams there with us."

Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Kahapea, 81st Medical Support Squadron and 81st EMEDS superintendent, noted, "Our Keesler medics exceeded my expectations as they bonded quickly and helped each other with the myriad of administrative and logistical requirements. The Southern Command inspectors were truly impressed with our medics and were blown away that they handled the medical scenarios so quickly and correctly. And the 59th EMEDS' leadership thanked our medics for teaching and mentoring them during their first command post exercise."

Kahapea explained that the 59th EMEDS from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, and 779th EMEDS, Joint Base Andrews, Md., also were involved in Vibrant Response 13.

"Each EMEDS team consisted of 12 members, and our medics worked with and trained the 59th," he added. "Although it was an ARNORTH exercise, the Air Force inspectors were from SOUTHCOM and Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., because the Army does not know how to evaluate Air Force EMEDS."

In addition to Roberts and Kahapea, team members were Staff Sgts. Cassandra Cruz, 81st Medical Group; Kwesi Wingate, 81st Medical Operations Squadron; and Norites Bittig, 81st Dental Squadron; Tech. Sgts. Adrian Jackson and Linda Crews, 81st Medical Support Squadron, and Christopher Speir, 81st Surgical Operations Squadron; Master Sgts. Mayisha Johnson, 81st MDSS; and Joshua Sigler, 81st Inpatient Operations Squadron; 1st Lt. Christopher Odom, 81st MDOS; and Capt. Dawn Higgins, 81st MDSS.