JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – Soldiers in training traveled to Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas from Fort Sill, Oklahoma during a controlled movement on March 31, 2020.Over 200 soldiers completing 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training, or BCT, at Fort Sill traveled in commercial contracted buses, in a deliberate and highly controlled convoy to begin 68W Combat Medic Advanced Individual Training, or AIT, at the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence, or MEDCoE.The group is the first to travel from BCT to MEDCoE for AIT since all installations within the Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC, transitioned to increased health protection conditions as part of their 2019 Coronavirus Disease, or COVID-19 response.As designed by TRADOC, each of the buses in the convoy were no more than half full to allow for social distancing. The buses were also equipped with latrines and each individual was provided a meal so that there were no stops between Oklahoma to Texas. Additionally, each bus driver and accompanying officer from Fort Sill who were also screened before the event.Cpt. Aaron Price served as MEDCoE’s officer in charge for the controlled movement. He acknowledged that the methodical, slower-paced, large-scale reception the soldiers received was not typical of most AIT incoming classes who generally filter in unceremoniously on their required report date.“This group has been screened repeatedly since they joined the Army,” said Price. “However, out of an abundance of caution, they will be screened several more times before they begin training at MEDCoE.”TRADOC is dedicated to meeting critical mission requirements while safeguarding the health and wellness of recruiters, recruits, cadre and their families. New recruits are initially screened by their recruiters, then they are screened at their military entrance processing stations, or MEPS before beginning training at BCT where they were screened daily.Price said, “When the caravan of buses arrived we had a team who screened them before they got off the bus, then we screened them again through a series of questions and each trainee’s temperature was taken before they were allowed to complete in-processing into AIT.”MEDCoE screeners, all cadre and drill instructors assigned to MEDCoE, wore proper protective equipment during the screenings and medical providers were on hand to provide any additional screening if needed. All incoming trainees passed each screening without incident.Throughout their 16 weeks of training, these soldiers will continue to be screened daily and encouraged to report any signs of illness to their drill sergeants or other instructors.Lt. Col. Teresa Pearce, Chief, Division of Preventive Health Services at MEDCoE is also a physician and served as the provider on station during the AIT screening.“I was impressed with the precision with which the units executed the entire operation,” said Pearce. “It was obvious that a great deal of planning and consideration of the health and safety of both the incoming trainees and the instructors had been incorporated into each step of the plan.”Price indicated that he had a lot of compassion for these new soldiers who were in the pipeline to becoming a combat medic well before COVID-19 became a global threat. He acknowledged the personal responsibility that everyone has to make social distancing a priority, not only in training, but in their daily lives though it seems unnatural to a group of people used to operating in buddy-teams.“Part of their onboarding as soon as they get here is to reiterate social distancing, ensuring that they are six feet apart; double arm internal,” said Price. “As future combat medics they tend to understand the reasons why these extra precautions are necessary; it is for everyone’s protection.”The move was part of a pilot program conducted by TRADOC. The Department of Defense and Army at large are under a stop movement through May 11, 2020 in efforts to stop the spread or contraction of COVID-19. Exceptions to policy, or ETPs, may be given for compelling cases where the travel is: determined to be mission essential; necessary for humanitarian reasons; or warranted due to extreme hardship.It is under the exception of being mission essential that keeps the pipeline of new recruits from recruitment to MEPS, BCT and AIT open at this time. Controlled movements of this kind are critical to maintaining U.S. Army readiness and success.The Army and TRADOC are using pilot movements like this one from Fort Sill to Fort Sam to refine procedures and best practices that ensure the safe transport of soldiers and mitigate possible exposure to COVID-19. At this time, it is uncertain if AIT soldiers will receive exceptions to the stop movement in order to allow them to report to their follow on duty stations after training.All MEDCoE personnel, not just new trainees are urged to follow force health protection guidance and the guidelines outlined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. MEDCoE is taking active steps to educate and safeguard military and civilian personnel and family members in preventing wide spread outbreak. Equally important is maintaining MEDCoE’s core mission to safely train professional soldiers.“Our job is to make this process as efficient and painless as possible so these troops can get cleared to start training. It’s important that we do this perfectly so that we can keep doing our job: safely training future generations of Army Medicine professionals.”