By Spc. Alexis Harrison, 2nd BCT,1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsDecember 10, 2007
BAGHDAD - One of the main responsibilities the 15th Brigade Support Battalion has taken on since coming to Iraq is the over watch of the Baghdad Zoo and Zawra Park complex just outside the International Zone.
On a number of occasions, the support battalion from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, has held cooperative medical engagements in the park's old restaurant in order to give medical care to employees of the zoo and their family members.
More than 120 people came to the one-day clinic in the zoo Dec. 4 to be seen and treated in what would prove to be the last commitment of its kind for the "Gamblers" of the 15th BSB.
Although it proved to be the last of five engagements the Gamblers have accomplished - three of which were inside the zoo compound- it was still a first-time opportunity for some Soldiers, like Bellevue, Neb., native 1st Lt. Lincoln Henjum.
"This took a lot of hard work and coordination to put together," he said. "I'm glad I could be a part of it."
According to Capt. Amy Cronin, the 15th BSB special projects officer, this was the most fluid operation of its kind she's been on since holding them in the park.
"This is the third time we've done this in the park. I think it was a success for many reasons. Good planning, experienced Soldiers and basic troop-leading procedures made this go so smoothly," said the Carlisle, Pa., native.
Operations like the medical engagements - named "Operation: Doc Holiday" by the troops - are carefully-orchestrated with several elements of the support battalion coming together with one common goal.
Troops from Headquarters Company as well as Companies A and B provided security and logistical support while Soldiers from Company C provided the medical care and pharmaceutical operations to those being seen inside the clinic.
"This took a lot of planning on our part to make this happen," Cronin said. "Starting out early helped incorporate all the moving pieces and make this a success."
Outside of what used to be a two-story restaurant the screening process began with personal searches being carried out by troops.
After the quick search, the soon-to-be patient or guardian would wait in one of two waiting areas before they were called forward to the medical care portion of the clinic.
Here, Capt. Silvana French and Sgt. Crystal Ritz would screen patients for allergies and symptoms before they were seen by a provider.
Upstairs in the restaurant, several medical and dental providers diagnosed symptoms, discussed treatment options and finally wrote prescriptions to be filled by the in-house pharmacy manned by Atlanta native Spc. Stephanie Thompson.
For many of the combat medics working at the clinic, this was the first and only time during their 15-month deployment they'd gotten outside of the base and into the city to help out.
"This was a great chance for a lot of younger Soldiers to get out and interact with the Iraqi people face to face," Cronin said.