By Kenji ThuloweitJuly 8, 2019
Officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services got an exclusive look into U.S. military emergency response capabilities on the peninsula courtesy of Eighth Army.
The Honorable Dr. Robert P. Kadlec, assistant secretary for HHS Preparedness and Response, visited Camp Humphreys June 25 as part of a visit to Asia. His mission was to learn about command capabilities pertaining to emergency response within the Korean Theater of Operation, according to Eighth Army participants. Subjects covered during the visit encompassed joint health service support, medical logistics and general noncombatant evacuation operations, or NEO.
"The (assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response) office coordinates interagency activities between HHS, other federal agencies and state and local officials responsible for emergency preparedness and the protection of the civilian population from public health emergencies," said Lt. Col. Heins Recheungel, Eighth Army and U.S. Forces Korea Aeromedical Evacuation officer.
Recheungel is responsible for coordinating, planning and synchronizing casualty evacuation in support of operational plans throughout the Korean Theater of Operations, along with coordinating with U.S. Army Pacific and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command for casualty evacuations.
Kadlec was accompanied by Erika Elvander, HHS Office of Global Affairs, Asia-Pacific director, and Navy Captain John Redd, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. The party was briefed on the new Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital to open on Camp Humphreys and the post's airfield operations and evacuation and medical support capabilities.
Perhaps the most insightful part of the visit for the HHS executives was seeing the collaboration and alliance among the U.S. military and its Korean hosts. After seeing Osan Air Base's hospital, Kadlec and party traveled to Ajou University Hospital in Suwon, South Korea, for a tour of the facilities there.
"Ajou hospital and medical units under Eighth Army actively train together to better respond to mass-casualty-producing type events such as an earthquake or tsunami where a large number of displaced personnel require immediate Level III medical care," said Recheungel. "Ajou University Medical Center serves as a premier hospital location for urgent/urgent surgical patients, especially those requiring immediate aeromedical evacuation support."
Recheungel added that Korean network hospitals are part of Eighth Army's network and with their international clinics provide the "highest quality healthcare," which are accredited by the Joint Commission International or the Korean Hospital Association.
"Ajou Medical Center will always be needed to supplement medical care for the current and future population of Camp Humphreys and the KTO," Recheungel said.
Kadlec's visit to Asia also included a stop in Japan. He spent more than 20 years as a career officer and physician in the U.S. Air Force before retiring as a colonel. Over the course of his career, he has held senior positions in the White House, U.S. Senate and the Department of Defense.