FORT DETRICK, Md. -- Before new medical devices arrive to operational units, U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command’s sustainers need to know what it’s going to take to keep those life-saving devices working.
What are the maintenance check lists?
What special purpose test, measurement and diagnostic equipment, or SP-TMDE, are needed to calibrate and repair the devices?
What are the common repair parts needed and are those parts in the catalog so units can order them?
“As the sustainment experts for medical materiel, AMLC plays an essential role in partnering with product managers to ensure medical devices are supportable throughout the full life cycle,” said Leigh Anne Alexander, director of AMLC’s Integrated Logistics Support Center. “This is a multi-pronged approach that starts early in the acquisition process to smooth the transition to sustainment.”
A prime example is the new Expeditionary Deployable Oxygen Concentration System, or EDOCS.
Built for military use in austere environments, EDOCS is a commercially produced oxygen-generation unit that takes ambient air and produces roughly 93% medical grade oxygen, according to Johnson Rollins, a biomedical engineer with the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity.
Medical logistics companies will use the EDOCS in the field to provide oxygen to medical facilities, both in direct support of patients and to fill mobile oxygen cylinders.
Rollins said the Army will begin fielding the EDOCS in 2024. To prepare for the fielding, USAMMDA recently coordinated EDOCS operational and service training, allowing AMLC team members to learn more about the EDOCS and its maintenance requirements.
Army maintenance is a layered approach. A unit’s biomedical equipment specialist, or 68A, performs field-level medical maintenance. If the unit’s Soldiers need help to overcome a specific maintenance issue, they can get support from AMLC’s Logistics Assistance Program, or LAP, which are embedded with the brigades.
Since AMLC oversees and executes sustainment-level maintenance, the LAP experts can bridge the gap between field- and sustainment level-maintenance, helping units determine if a device needs to be evacuated back to a Medical Maintenance Operations Division, or MMOD, for higher level repairs.
In some cases, when a unit is deployed to an operational setting, sustainers from the MMOD or the LAP may deploy to the unit’s location to provide additional emergency support.
“In order for the LAP personnel to function effectively, they need to be trained to maintain the medical equipment that our field units will be using,” said Jason Acevedo, director of the Logistics Assistance Directorate, or LAD. “If they can’t perform repairs themselves, our logistics assistance representatives, or LARs, can provide the necessary training or even, in certain circumstances, do the repairs themselves to assist these units.”
The LAD is one of several directorates under AMLC’s Integrated Logistics Support Center. The ILSC performs the critical role of synchronizing acquisition and sustainment activities throughout the medical materiel life cycle to ensure fielded systems are sustainable, supportable and affordable.
“The EDOCS is a capability that we had before, but this is a newer model that brings added efficiencies,” Acevedo said, noting that extreme heat or excessively dusty conditions had posed operating challenges with prior units. “This training was valuable so we can provide over-the-shoulder support during the fielding process, in addition to troubleshooting, repair and scheduled maintenance support in the future.”
The LAP team is comprised of LARs, system technical representatives, or STRs, and lead-system technical representatives, or L-STRs. Each member provides direct expert technical support and training to different Army field support brigades, or AFSBs.
Collectively, LAP personnel serve as one of several layers of support for Army medical units. While the LAP provides the first line of defense for a variety of medical sustainment issues, it does not replace organic assets, such as the 68A at the unit level or civilian personnel with the MMOD’s Forward Repair Activity-Medical team that provide sustainment-level maintenance support in the field.
LAP personnel are embedded with AFSBs at their respective duty stations and can deploy alongside units in training or other contingency operations.
“Part of the mission for the LAP program is to detect and resolve issues that may affect unit readiness,” said Dominique Druet, a LAR based out of Fort Liberty, North Carolina. “Having proper training on new equipment allows us to be able to do our job effectively and provide training to military. As a LAR, the more I know about the equipment, the better the knowledge is that I can pass on.”
AMLC is the Army’s premier medical logistics organization and Life Cycle Management Command, or LCMC, for medical materiel.