ANSBACH, Germany (April 17, 2020) – The Ansbach Army Health Clinic, which provides ambulatory care for more than 6,000 local Soldiers, civilians and family members, joined forces with medical personnel from 12th Combat Aviation Brigade; 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment; and the American Red Cross, for COVID-19 Contingency Training.
The one-week training, completed today, ensured that U.S. Army Garrison (USAG) Ansbach has a ‘ready medical force’ to fight against the Coronavirus pandemic under contingency conditions, said Lt. Col. Daniel Cash, Ansbach Army Health Clinic commander.
“We have borrowed equipment from [Training Support Activity Europe] for the trainings, which we appreciate,” Cash said. “The training has been going very well.”
Contingency conditions mean that hospitals in Germany can no longer accept new patients. In that case, the Ansbach Army Health Clinic can support patients until they can be evacuated to other hospitals in Germany or sent to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
Lt. Col. Randy Viray, Ansbach Army Health Clinic chief nurse, said this is a worst-case scenario, but the clinic will be prepared to address a variety of issues if the need arises.
“The MEDDAC Bavaria commander wants every clinic to have the capabilities for four categories,” Viray said. “There is COVID-19 positives, emergent and acute, and non-COVID-19 patients that need routine care or for emergencies like those who have cut their hand, are having chest pains, or are pregnant and going into labor.”
The difference between emergent and acute cases is that emergent cases are life threatening and need to be taken care of immediately to save life, limb or eyesight; acute cases are not life threatening but still need treatment which may include medication and self-isolation at home.
Approximately 50 medical personnel, including clinic staff and U.S. Army Forces Command Soldiers within the USAG Ansbach community, attended 12 classes to train on 22 skills that included patient packaging and transport (critical care), endotracheal tube intubation: orotracheal (respiratory therapy), nasal cannula or oxygen mask application (respiratory therapy), and nasogastric tube for gastric decompression.
“An added benefit to this training is that Soldiers, nurses and staff received 11 hours of continuing education credits,” Viray said. “Normally, you have to attend a seminar or course to receive those credits.”
Weeks of Preparation
As a primary care clinic, the Ansbach Army Health Clinic does not treat emergencies or traumas, regularly. Those cases are normally seen at the Klinikum Ansbach.
Sgt. James Tabong, behavioral health Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC), and Sgt. Marc Hubble, primary care NCOIC, were assigned to create the plan to ensure the Ansbach Army Health Clinic was ready to answer the call if contingencies were necessary.
“The initial tasker indicated we needed to be ready by April 17,” Hubble said. “It took us about 48 hours to come up with an initial plan.”
A task that would normally take months to implement, took Hubble and Tabong a matter of a week and a few days to make successful.
Tabong said, after the initial plan was presented to clinic leadership, they were able to take the feedback and changes, work through some evenings and the weekend, to “push it out and we were ready to rock.”
“The teamwork was really there,” Hubble said. “From a medical standpoint … we are getting that hands-on trauma skill for possible trauma non-COVID-19 patients, which is very helpful … especially with possible COVID-19 patients coming in as well that may be emergent.”
The garrison-wide training event has connected USAG Ansbach medical personnel, and helped them train on skills needed to support the community if the situation warrants, which Hubble said was huge in building confidence for the Army medics and medical personnel in the clinic.