163d Medical Group travels to Germany for real-world training

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Neil Ballecer
  • 163d Attack Wing

The 163d Medical Group marked another milestone in its tradition of international endeavors when the unit traveled to Landstuhl, Germany, in August to interleave with the U.S. European Command’s largest Army medical hub, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC).


Col. Martin Louie, 163d MDG Commander, said the mission of testing the unit’s ability to work effectively in LRMC seemed less like a routine TDY than a real-world exercise.


“Our medical group had to hit the ground running and integrate into an already proven military hospital,” Louie explained.


With a staff of over 1,500 military from different service branches, 800 civilians, and 300 local nationals, LRMC cares for over 205,000 patients throughout Europe, including military service members, Department of Defense civilians, military retirees, and family members. It’s the largest American hospital outside of the United States and the only American College of Surgeons verified Level 3 overseas trauma center, offering 52 medical specialties and averaging over 46,000 outpatients a month.


“It felt like we belonged there,” said Master Sgt. Janine Chavez, 163d MDG Health Service Manager. “Our 163d Medical team seamlessly joined with LRMCs staff in clinical, intensive-care unit, public health, pediatrics, dental, bio-environment, emergency room, optometry, lab, administration and filled an active-duty Critical Care Air Transport. We had the opportunity to experience the big picture.”


“We train for all the scenarios, but to actually load an ambulance and our warriors on a C-17…it was truly amazing,” added Chavez.


LRMC in turn provided the 163d MDG with new technologies and training in specialty areas such as tele-health, gynecology, internal medicine, medical simulation, respiratory, critical care and pediatrics.


Master Sgt. Nona Qualls, 163d Medical Technician said, the staff at LRMC was outstanding. They encouraged me to get involved at every level – from the live births to assisting the mother and anesthesiologist during the process. “There’s nothing like the real world experience,” said Qualls. “I helped bring six newborns into this world.”


The 26 Grizzlys from the 163d MDG amassed 3,500 hours in 13 days. Airmen worked 10 to12 hour shifts, yet still found time to provide cooked meals for the Landstuhl Fisher House.


“A lot of training, building good relationships with the Army and Air Force, and experiencing the German culture were the highlights of the trip,” exclaimed Lt. Col. Barbara Bloethe, troop commander for the 163d MDG in Germany. “Our members gained a better understanding of the active duty environment and were able to enhance their skills in their career fields to prepare them for the future.”


“Bringing the 163d here was very easy. The teamwork and the partnership was amazing,” said Lt. Col. Dawn Seeley, Chief of Education, Army LRMC. “We have all come together to work on one goal of providing the best care possible for our patients and we hope to see the Grizzlys again.”