By KRIS GONZALEZ, Fort Jackson LeaderJanuary 7, 2010
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- More than 5,200 Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training Soldiers returned from block leave this week, some rejuvenated and ready to continue training, others bringing high morale and holiday cheer.
But one thing none of those Soldiers brought back was the flu - something Fort Jackson leaders worked overtime last year to prevent.
Before heading out for block leave, which began Dec. 17, in addition to their usual safety briefings, Soldiers received both seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccinations.
The result' Of the thousands of Soldiers returning to Fort Jackson, only seven were sent to the Urgent Care Clinic. None of those Soldiers were determined to have the flu.
Although Soldiers were vaccinated prior to leaving, as an added precaution, Soldiers filing into the Solomon Center earlier this week had an extra step in their in-processing.
In addition to the usual scanning of military identification cards, returning Soldiers were evaluated at a medic screening station set up to discern and monitor anyone experiencing or recovering from flu-like symptoms.
The medic screening station was a way to double check and identify Soldiers who were sick and get them treated before immersing them in the general population of Soldiers, said Master Sgt. Keith Green, 171st Infantry Brigade operations noncommissioned officer-in-charge.
Once at the station, Soldiers were asked to describe any ailments. Medics took the temperatures of Soldiers describing or displaying cold or flu-like symptoms. Soldiers with a fever of 100.1 or higher were sent to the Urgent Care Clinic to have their throats swabbed. The swabs were then used to test for the flu or other illnesses.
Time spent at the station was relatively short, adding only a few minutes to the signing-in process for most Soldiers, unless they were among the few who were found to be very sick.
"Our mission is to ensure the Soldiers get to where they need to go safely and as quickly as possible," said Staff Sgt. Billy Gibson, with the 171st. "We understand they've been traveling for a while; they're hungry and they're tired. We want their wait to be no longer than 10 or 15 minutes."
Pvt. Adam Saucier, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, said he felt nauseated when he arrived at the center, but when checked by medics, he didn't have a fever.
"It must have been something I ate along the drive," said Saucier, who drove 10 hours from his hometown Destin, Fla.
Saucier said despite his stomach pains, he was glad to be back to training. With only three weeks left, he will graduate BCT Jan. 22 and go to AIT at Fort Sill, Okla. to become a cannon crew member. He said joining the Army was one of the best decisions of his life, second only to marrying his wife, Kelly, who is six months pregnant with their first son. Saucier said he and his wife are excited about their new life in the military.
"It's a good way to support your family, a good chance to travel, and you get good medical insurance," he said laughingly.