Enhancing Public Health interoperability for the joint force

By Michelle ThumNovember 2, 2022

Lieutenant Commander Matthew Hall
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lieutenant Commander Matthew Hall, the Preventive Medicine action officer at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery and Public Health Emergency Officer for BUMED and Naval Installations Command, teaches a class about public health emergency declarations at the Public Health Emergency Management training exercise held at Ramstein Air Base, Oct. 24 to 28. (Photo Credit: Michelle Thum) VIEW ORIGINAL
Lt. Col. William Washington
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Public Health Command Europe Human and Health Services Director Lt. Col. William Washington leading a disease outbreak training exercise at the Public Health Emergency Management training exercise held at Ramstein Air Base, Oct. 24 to 28. (Photo Credit: Michelle Thum) VIEW ORIGINAL

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --- Members of Army Public Health Command Europe strengthened their partnership with sister-services in a Defense Health Agency led Public Health Emergency Management training exercise held at Ramstein Air Base, Oct. 24 to 28.

The five-day training event consisted of 40 active duty and civilian participants from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army and U.S. Navy from across the European theater.

“This is the first time that the training was held overseas,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Mark Lehman, U.S. Air Force Command Public Health Officer and Health Promotion Consultant at the office of the Command Surgeon of the United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa. “It’s a Department of Defense requirement and we had some folks that weren’t trained up due to the pandemic and travel restrictions that we were able to have the instructors from the Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute based in San Antonio, Tx., come out and train here.”

According to Lehman the course is usually for public health emergency and medical emergency officers only but they were able to open it up to more people due to it being local.

“We have participants from all over Europe in this course, it is a great chance for them to meet for the first time,” said Lehman. “Here in the Kaiserslautern Military Community we have services in multiple locations. Getting everyone together in this course is a stepping stone to build partnerships and leverage each other’s capabilities and strengths.”

The military medical professionals were able to train together and shared subject matter expertise and best practices regarding public health emergency mitigation, coordination and communication efforts.

"I truly enjoyed this week's training," said U.S Army PHCE Biological Analysis Divison Chief, Junia Jean-Gilles Beaubrun. "It was great meeting other like-minded subject matter experts and to talk about something we are all passionate about."

Beaubrun, added that the training was very valuable and motivating.

"I wouldn't say that we are overlooked, but consulting with and considering LS' capabilities is certainly not the first thought in most public health responses," added Sharlanda Khosravi, the U.S Army PHCE Biological Analysis Division Deputy chief. "This is especially true with the recent COVID pandemic where we showed, and proved, that we deserve a seat at the table."

According to senior Army public health officials, PHCE's LS implemented a pooled COVID-19 testing method and processed more than 200,000 COVID-19 samples that mitigated the risk of the COVID-19 spread across military communities in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

After discussing broad topics like PHEM within the DOD, emerging infectious diseases and threats, the training session ended with a day-long hands-on exercise.

According to event organizers, the entire group was split up into teams as they worked through various public health emergency scenarios.

"The goal of the vignettes is to provide real-world scenarios that demonstrate the complexity of a public health outbreak or emergency," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. William Washington, director of Health and Human Services at Public Health Command Europe.

According to Washington, being prepared and trained is crucial for a prompt and effective execution.

"The exercise highlights the various different organizations that may have to work together to manage the emergency, and the importance of developing and maintaining important cross-organizational public health relationships."