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News | June 29, 2022

Back To The 'Why'

By Staff Sgt. Victoria Nelson

Medical specialists from the New Hampshire National Guard and its sister services provided Cherokee Nation more than a quarter of a million dollars' worth of healthcare during an Innovative Readiness Training mission June 4 to 18.

“It’s a unique experience in that we get to support the community’s needs as a product of our training,” said 2nd Lt. Nick Carano of the 157th Air Refueling Wing. “Medics are required to keep their certifications up to date. Here they get to do that while operating with patients in real time and truly supporting local residents.”

Fielded inside a local high school gymnasium, the clinic served 445 Cherokee Nation residents. It covered a range of services including dentistry, physical exams, optometry and pharmaceutical care training. More than 7,000 clinical hours were amassed over the two weeks.

Representatives from the American Heart Association and Tactical Combat Casualty Care also taught courses during the IRT. More than 60 servicemen and women earned certifications, which accounted for more than 460 hours of ancillary training.

“When we look at all of the numbers, everything looks the same on a spreadsheet,” said Master Sgt. Meghan O’Regan, noncommissioned officer in charge of training for the 157th Medical Group. “But real world, airmen and soldiers experienced situations that can’t be emulated in a classroom environment.”

“They were able to perform life-saving compressions for the first time,” she continued. “You can’t replicate that feeling or explain it with a power point.”

About an hour west in Tulsa, Emergency Medical Services Authority or EMSA offered nearly 300 hours of ride-alongs. A soldier performed CPR on a patient for the first time. Guardsmen stabilized a pregnant woman with seizures while others handled patients with behavioral health complications for the first time in their career.

“Innovative readiness training brings us back to the ‘why’, why we enlist and why we continue to serve,” said Col. Nelson Perron, commander of the 157th Air Refueling Wing, who was visiting the IRT. “Our airmen get the chance to have extensive training and do exactly what they signed up to do, all in the heart of communities in need.”