"One of the most important words on the battlefield when a Soldier is injured is medic," said Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army, during his visit to the 586th Field Hospital at Sierra Army Depot (SIAD), California, during the United States Forces Command (FORSCOM) Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise (EDRE) Medical Exercise 20-01 (MEDEX 20-01), Nov. 4, 2019.
"And when that word is screamed out, the war fighters are counting on Army medicine to be able to respond," said Dingle.
This was the message Dingle echoed as he and many other distinguished visitors traveled to SIAD to speak to the leadership overseeing MEDEX 20-01 and toured the 586th field hospital to get an on-ground view of how a medical exercise of this scale increases the overall readiness for Army medicine.
MEDEX 20-01 was distinct from other exercises because it was a multi-component exercise that included all the roles of medical care. Each role represented a different capability of care.
"It's unique because it's tying in from the point of injury at the National Training Center," said Dingle. "We are exercising the entire spectrum of care from a point of injury to evacuation to the hospital all the way out to the next fixed hospital back CONUS."
Like pieces to a puzzle, approximately 600 medical professionals from 15 installations across the United States deployed to California to support the 531st Hospital Center as they validated their ability to assume operational control of two field hospitals, separated by over 500 miles, as a cohesive team.
"It's important to train with different medical teams because we are a modular medical system," said Dingle. "This system is tested because we plug and play with the different units based on the requirement and based on the combat needs."
FORSCOM took the initiative to conduct the EDRE of the hospital center which tested the readiness of medical professionals to the same standards as the rest of the Army's forces. Leaders felt this EDRE was key to Army medicine and all the units that support combat multipliers and deployers.
"If we don't do it here, we can't do it over there," said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael L. Gragg, the senior enlisted advisor to the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army.
After several briefs and speaking to numerous medical Soldiers, Dingle took a moment to emphasize the importance of documenting lessons learned from every Soldier, no matter their rank or position, during the MEDEX.
"The private's lessons are just as important as the major's lessons because that private is the one who has to lift or twist or fix it," said Dingle. "They provide the support to that surgeon or to that nurse or to that ward."
Dingle believes that the medical professionals must sit down and document all the lessons learned from each of the different compacities in the hospital and send those responses up to the strategic level so changes can be made.
"When we are called upon to combat, the hospital is not just ready, but it is relevant and responsive," said Dingle. "Army medicine is Army strong!"