‘Highlanders’ consolidate medical personnel: Unveil new combined aid station
Spc. Brandon A. Bednarek,
4th BCT, 1st Armored Div. Public Affairs:
At a time when force strength has left them with personnel shortages, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, discovered that providing everyday medical assistance was a trying task for both Soldiers and medical staff.
Over the course of the last few months, each “Highlander” battalion has witnessed a significant decline in personnel due to permanent changes of station, intra-post transfers and the brigade’s current Security Force Advise and Assist Team mission in Afghanistan.
“Any time you have a unit that partially deploys, one of the first things that will start to diminish is medical personnel,” said Capt. Phillip Martin, the brigade’s medical planning officer.
The effect of unavoidable troop disposition resulted in a unit-wide reduction of nearly a third of its medic population, leaving some battalions unable to efficiently provide Soldier care.
In order to streamline efficiency and subdue the inconveniences shared by both Soldiers and staff, the brigade has consolidated each of the battalion’s medical resources and unveiled what is now called the “Highlander Combined Aid Station.”
“Essentially, the battalions didn’t have enough personnel to run their individual aid stations and support their populations,” Martin said. “Although brigade personnel was diminishing, we couldn’t diminish access to care. Especially for the regular Soldier who doesn’t have care unless he receives it from his battalion.
“If that Soldier doesn’t have access, that becomes a critical failure,” he continued. “So what we’ve done is consolidated our efforts into one station in the brigade area.”
Classroom 6 of the Highlander Headquarters building, a space once designated for general instruction, is now occupied by cubicles, examination tables and a functioning clinic.
Physician’s assistants and the battalion’s remaining medics staff the station on a rotational basis, offering daily sick-call and acute care throughout the duty week, as well as scheduling Soldiers’ appointment needs.
“Soldiers can expect a more standardized system since battalions are all located in the same area with the same system,” said Martin.
The combined nature of the station allows Soldiers to be assessed and treated more quickly, drastically cutting down on the time spent waiting at post clinics, Martin said. It will also allow medics to expedite the return of Soldiers to duty, increasing the combat multiplier for commanders.
Full connectivity and equipment acquisition for the HCAS will remain operational until the force population of medics returns to 75 percent or higher, said Martin.
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