Soldiers from the 215th Brigade Support Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas, and the 115th Combat Support Hospital at Fort Polk, Louisiana, completed hands-on medical equipment training at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency's Medical Maintenance Operations Division - Tracy located at Defense Distribution Depot San Joaquin, California, March 2.

The one-month training provided the Soldiers with a low-stress, non-operational environment in which to learn and practice how to evaluate, calibrate, repair and conduct preventive maintenance on a variety of technically sophisticated medical devices, including the newly fielded Portable Digital Radiology System and other imaging equipment.

"Medical maintenance is a skill that must be practiced. These trainings provide Soldiers with an opportunity to work side-by-side with vendors and Army experts with advanced device-specific training, so that they can gain the experience and confidence they need in order to repair life-saving equipment in the field -- where there is no room for error and a working piece of equipment may be the difference between life and death," said MMOD - Tracy Electronics Supervisor Vernon Emmons.

Emmons explained that Soldiers are not the only ones that benefit from depot-based medical maintenance training. Previous trainings have also included Sailors, Airmen and Marines.

Sgt. Kevin Taylor, a medical maintainer with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, participated in the training at MMOD-Tracy and said the training helped better prepare him for an operational environment.

"I learned a lot about [various imaging systems] that the Army has in its inventory," Taylor said. "Without the training, I would not be nearly as comfortable with these pieces of equipment."

MMOD-Tracy is one of three stateside medical maintenance depots that operate under USAMMA, a subordinate organization of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. In addition to providing maintenance and training for medical imaging equipment, MMOD-Tracy serves as the Center of Excellence for Special Purpose Test, Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment and manages the Army's X-ray acceptance program. Each depot provides biomedical equipment experts to the Forward Repair Activity-Medical (FRA-M), a deployable team that works alongside unit-based biomedical equipment specialists. The FRA-M augments these personnel with specialty-certified expertise. Additionally, USAMMA's depot-level maintenance experts provide training and biomedical equipment maintenance support for the Army National Guard and reserve units.

Added Taylor, "I would say the most valuable thing I learned while on this training is how to properly test and verify X-ray equipment. Instead of learning just the set-up for the tests, I learned theory, reasoning and justification for each of the required tests on an X-ray unit. This is much more valuable because when you understand the theory and operation of an item, it is much easier to troubleshoot and pinpoint symptoms within the machine to repair it. It makes you a better technician as a whole."