131 FH flexes expeditionary readiness at Bliss

By David PoeJune 11, 2021

Sgt. Natalie Madrid, a 247th Medical Detachment Soldier and a licensed practical nurse, helps break out equipment during Operation Guardian Readiness, the 131 Field Hospital's latest field exercise, at Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5. During Guardian Readiness, 131st FH Soldiers are building proficiency in their ability to stand up their hospital in an austere environment.
1 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Sgt. Natalie Madrid, a 247th Medical Detachment Soldier and a licensed practical nurse, helps break out equipment during Operation Guardian Readiness, the 131 Field Hospital's latest field exercise, at Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5. During Guardian Readiness, 131st FH Soldiers are building proficiency in their ability to stand up their hospital in an austere environment. (Photo Credit: David Poe) VIEW ORIGINAL
A senior non-commissioned officer monitors the 131st Field Hospital’s field exercise from the tactical operations center at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021.
2 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A senior non-commissioned officer monitors the 131st Field Hospital’s field exercise from the tactical operations center at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. (Photo Credit: David Poe) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital unpack a cargo container at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. As part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness, Guardian Knight Soldiers stood up their Role 3 medical facility in an austere environment.
3 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital unpack a cargo container at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. As part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness, Guardian Knight Soldiers stood up their Role 3 medical facility in an austere environment. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital unpack a cargo container at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. As part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness, Guardian Knight Soldiers stood up their Role 3 medical facility in an austere environment.
4 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital unpack a cargo container at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. As part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness, Guardian Knight Soldiers stood up their Role 3 medical facility in an austere environment. (Photo Credit: David Poe) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital unpack a cargo container at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. As part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness, Guardian Knight Soldiers stood up their Role 3 medical facility in an austere environment.
5 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital unpack a cargo container at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. As part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness, Guardian Knight Soldiers stood up their Role 3 medical facility in an austere environment. (Photo Credit: David Poe) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital unpack a cargo container at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. As part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness, Guardian Knight Soldiers stood up their Role 3 medical facility in an austere environment.
6 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital unpack a cargo container at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. As part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness, Guardian Knight Soldiers stood up their Role 3 medical facility in an austere environment. (Photo Credit: David Poe) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital stand up one of almost 20 Expeditionary Medical Support System structures as part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness at Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. The Army field hospital is a modular, Role 3 treatment facility designed to deliver commanders custom-fit Army Health System support based upon environment and mission needs.
7 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital stand up one of almost 20 Expeditionary Medical Support System structures as part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness at Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. The Army field hospital is a modular, Role 3 treatment facility designed to deliver commanders custom-fit Army Health System support based upon environment and mission needs. (Photo Credit: David Poe) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital unpack a cargo container at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. As part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness, Guardian Knight Soldiers stood up their Role 3 medical facility in an austere environment.
8 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital unpack a cargo container at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. As part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness, Guardian Knight Soldiers stood up their Role 3 medical facility in an austere environment. (Photo Credit: David Poe) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital unpack a cargo container at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. As part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness, Guardian Knight Soldiers stood up their Role 3 medical facility in an austere environment.
9 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital unpack a cargo container at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. As part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness, Guardian Knight Soldiers stood up their Role 3 medical facility in an austere environment. (Photo Credit: David Poe) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital stand up one of almost 20 Expeditionary Medical Support System structures as part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness at Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021.In April 2018, the 131st FH (then the 31st was the second active-duty unit in the Army to field the EMEDS.
10 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital stand up one of almost 20 Expeditionary Medical Support System structures as part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness at Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021.In April 2018, the 131st FH (then the 31st was the second active-duty unit in the Army to field the EMEDS. (Photo Credit: David Poe) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital stood up one of almost 20 Expeditionary Medical Support System structures as part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness at Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. In April 2018, the 131st FH (then the 31st Combat Support Hospital) was the second active-duty unit in the Army to field the EMEDS.
11 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital stood up one of almost 20 Expeditionary Medical Support System structures as part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness at Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. In April 2018, the 131st FH (then the 31st Combat Support Hospital) was the second active-duty unit in the Army to field the EMEDS. (Photo Credit: David Poe) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital arrive just after sunrise at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 6, 2021. During field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness, 131st FH Soldiers built proficiency in their ability to stand up their hospital in an austere environment.
12 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital arrive just after sunrise at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 6, 2021. During field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness, 131st FH Soldiers built proficiency in their ability to stand up their hospital in an austere environment. (Photo Credit: David Poe) VIEW ORIGINAL
The late-morning sun shines over the tactical operations center at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 6, 2021.
13 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The late-morning sun shines over the tactical operations center at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 6, 2021. (Photo Credit: David Poe) VIEW ORIGINAL
Staff Sgt. Petagay Williams, the 131st FH’s acting administration officer, or S-1 officer-in-charge, in the 131st Field Hospital tactical operations center at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 6, 2021.
14 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Staff Sgt. Petagay Williams, the 131st FH’s acting administration officer, or S-1 officer-in-charge, in the 131st Field Hospital tactical operations center at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 6, 2021. (Photo Credit: David Poe) VIEW ORIGINAL
Sgt. Denise Hernandez, a 247th Medical Detachment Soldier and a licensed practical nurse, installs lighting during Operation Guardian Readiness, the 131st Field Hospital's latest field exercise, at Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. During Guardian Readiness, 131st FH Soldiers are building proficiency in their ability to stand up their hospital in an austere environment.
15 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Sgt. Denise Hernandez, a 247th Medical Detachment Soldier and a licensed practical nurse, installs lighting during Operation Guardian Readiness, the 131st Field Hospital's latest field exercise, at Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. During Guardian Readiness, 131st FH Soldiers are building proficiency in their ability to stand up their hospital in an austere environment. (Photo Credit: David Poe) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital await their teammates as the sun rises over Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. The Guardian Knights are currently testing their ability to stand up operations in an austere environment as part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness.
16 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital await their teammates as the sun rises over Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. The Guardian Knights are currently testing their ability to stand up operations in an austere environment as part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital converse at the rear of their newly-stood up radiology lab on the training complex at Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. The Guardian Knights are currently testing their ability to stand up operations in an austere environment as part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness.
17 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers from the 131st Field Hospital converse at the rear of their newly-stood up radiology lab on the training complex at Fort Bliss, Texas, June 5, 2021. The Guardian Knights are currently testing their ability to stand up operations in an austere environment as part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness. (Photo Credit: David Poe) VIEW ORIGINAL
A 131st Field Hospital Soldier places the unit colors outside of the tactical operations center at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 6, 2021. As part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness, Guardian Knight Soldiers stood up their Role 3 medical facility in an austere environment.
18 / 18 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A 131st Field Hospital Soldier places the unit colors outside of the tactical operations center at Camp Old Ironsides, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 6, 2021. As part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness, Guardian Knight Soldiers stood up their Role 3 medical facility in an austere environment. (Photo Credit: David Poe) VIEW ORIGINAL

From generators to heavy trucks and every syringe and roll of gauze in between, when a field hospital deploys to a forward location, their Soldiers sometimes have the assistance of a brigade support battalion to help them stand up their facilities.

But what happens when there’s no BSB? No outside unit to help carry the load, help stage it and get services like power and water on line quickly on the battlefield.

You go anyway.

“This element we have, as a field hospital, is supposed to be expeditionary,” said Staff Sgt. Petagay Williams, the 131st Field Hospital’s acting administration officer, or S-1 officer-in-charge, “so it’s all about picking up our equipment and being able to move at any given time.”

As a part of field exercise Operation Guardian Readiness, the 131st FH found out just how well they can pick up and move as they established Level III care–the highest available in a combat zone–in an austere environment on the training complex at Fort Bliss, Texas, June 1-13, 2021.

The purpose of the exercise was for the Guardian Knights to work on skills such as convoy operations and validating load plans; standing up the Army Expeditionary Medical Support System, and other Army Warrior Tasks, all in an austere environment to challenge the Soldiers on cross-domain and semi-independent operations.

Teams turned the training site into a classroom in the sand as the build-up and maintenance of the EMEDS served as a hands-on learning environment. EMEDS is a modular, customizable network of mobile healthcare clinics.

The 131st FH has a historic tie to the Army EMEDS. In 2018, the Guardian Knights were only the second active-duty unit in the Army to field the new system.

Williams said new Soldiers to the Army, regardless of the military specialties, stood to benefit from Operation Guardian Readiness as they had an opportunity to see EMEDS and expeditionary health service rehearse deployment operations and learn by doing.

“We have some Soldiers who are not from medical MOSs who have never seen this before,” Williams, an 11-year Army veteran, said. “So it’s important to get them out here while we’re doing this ‘crawl-walk-run’ phase, so that way they’re able to say ‘okay, this is what setting up tents looks like’ … they feel more comfortable providing medical care in a field environment versus a fixed facility where everything would be there for them.”

In 2017, after assessing the effectiveness of the Vietnam-era combat support hospital, the Army started transitioning CSHs to the Army field hospital model and the former 31st Combat Support Hospital was reflagged as today’s 131st FH.

A departure from the extended CSH setup, the FH model allows for more flexibility as detachments within the hospital can deploy elsewhere. This was on display during Guardian Readiness as the 247th Medical Detachment and 214th Surgical Detachment didn’t augment their pods onto the modular, main hospital until later into the exercise. In a real world operation, those Soldiers could stand up expeditionary health service elsewhere in the hospital’s area of responsibility, or as a part of another field hospital.

An example of the “pick up and go” expeditionary mindset of the field hospital, Sgt. Michael Charbonneau, a physical therapy technician and S-1 noncommissioned-officer-in-charge, was also the power team leader during the exercise and was responsible for the power grid scheme to run the field hospital’s eight clinics.

“The value of on-the-job training–physically putting your hands on a piece of equipment to see how it works, and why it works, and what it’s used for–is incomparable to classroom-led training,” said Charbonneau. “To be out here in this environment and to be able to use our equipment … to be able to bring it out here and get reps is invaluable.”