FORT POLK, La. — The Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk hosted a Medical Evacuation Conference Jan. 14 at the Bayou Theater. Fort Polk command and JRTC leaders from the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital, Directorate of Emergency Services, 1st Battalion, 5th Aviation Regiment — Cajun Dustoff-Judge Advocate General and others attended the event, along with representatives from state and local emergency agencies.
The off-post agencies were briefed about current Army protocol and regulations centering on cooperation between Fort Polk and state and local agencies during emergency situations.
Mark Leslie, DPTMS director, led the conference and thanked everyone for attending.
“This conference is important to us, and I’m glad it’s important to you,” he said.
Leslie said the purpose of the conference was to set a baseline understanding of the laws, regulations and rules that Fort Polk has to follow to assist its parish partners.
“Over the years, Fort Polk has cultivated a great relationship with our parish partners,” he said.
“In the emergencies over the last year — pick one, we’ve had a lot of them — we had a positive dialogue with most of you,” he said.
Brig. Gen. David S. Doyle, JRTC and Fort Polk commanding general, said the relationship Fort Polk has with the community matters.
“The way that we interact and communicate and the frequency with which we work together is a significant factor in our collective success,” he said.
Doyle said Fort Polk has assets and requirements, as do its parish partners.
“The more we understand what’s possible, the better off we will be as we move forward,” he said.
Doyle said after studying the after action reviews of some of Fort Polk’s emergencies in 2020, he realized that the installation depended on support from surrounding parishes and the state.
“Some of the things we were able to accomplish were largely enabled by your work with us. I want to say thank you on behalf of JRTC and Fort Polk for that effort,” he said.
Doyle said some of the conference’s objectives included keeping the lines of communication open and being as transparent as possible.
“As we discuss things today, you are going to see there are no secrets, and we want to engage with you to see what your requirements are moving forward,” he said.
Neal Fudge, Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, assistant deputy director, attended the event and said networking at a conference like this allows emergency agencies the opportunity to have a better response during emergency events. “Now you can put a name with a face and talk to an individual that you know, and that makes things easier,” he said.
Fudge said in addition to meeting new people, he likes learning about things.
“I always gain knowledge, and that makes for a better emergency reaction,” he said.
Calvin Turner, Vernon Parish Sheriff Department chief deputy, said he appreciated being invited to the MEDEVAC conference. “It’s so important for us to make contact with our Fort Polk counterparts, know what’s available and the procedures necessary to obtain help. We have to work together. Fort Polk provides a beneficial support system to people and emergency agencies in the surrounding parishes,” he said.
Turner said the last time there were floods in Vernon Parish, Fort Polk provided air support for rescues. “Discussing what’s possible gives us a better idea about how to make (a response to an emergency situation) all come together,” he said.