Eighth Army medics work with KATUSA on real-world mission to keep soldiers in fight
WARRIOR BASE, South Korea -- Medical readiness is critical to maintaining a globally deployable and effective military. During Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2013, medics from the Eighth Army and the Republic of Korea army's KATUSA program are prepared to handle any situation prevention can't stop.
Every year, thousands of U.S. service members train alongside their ROK brothers and sisters in arms during UFG 13, one of the largest joint military computer simulation training exercises in the world. While this exercise is simulated, medics at the troop medical clinic stand ready for a critical and very real mission: providing medical support to the sick and injured.
Because UFG 13 is a multinational exercise, the services provided by the clinic are also available to the ROK Army. At Warrior Base, these medics provide 24-hour medical support for exercise participants.
The addition of Korea Augmentation to the U.S. Army soldiers to the clinic staff allows the medics to break down the language barrier with the ROK soldiers and provides a valuable source of knowledge for the young U.S. medics stationed in Korea. The KATUSA program, created in 1950, embeds Korean soldiers with the American military to help facilitate the movement and functionality of American troops throughout the country.
"KATUSAs are awesome. I've never had anything but good experiences with them," said Sgt. Jeremy McMahon, a clinic noncommissioned officer, who is serving his second tour in Korea. "Some of them have more real-world knowledge than we do because they go to college, so a lot of them have a lot of experience to bring to the table."
McMahon also said most of his soldiers are new to the Army and at their first duty station, so the knowledge the KATUSAs have shared with his soldiers has been invaluable.
Many of the cases seen at the clinic were a result of service members underestimating fluid intake and how their bodies would react prior to becoming acclimated to the hot and humid Korean summers.
Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration. The amount of water necessary to keep someone hydrated depends greatly on the weather, the amount of physical activity, and an individual's physical fitness level. The symptoms of dehydration include lethargy, headaches and lack of energy.
"If you're not drinking water, then by the end of the day you're really going to be dehydrated," said Schoonmaker, an Okeechobee, Fla., native. "You're going to have headaches, you're going to feel bad, and you're not going to have any energy."
Most injuries and illnesses that happen in the field could be prevented by staying hydrated, getting the proper caloric intake, taking care of the feet, and washing hands, said Pvt. Zachery Schoonmaker, a combat medic for Eighth Army.
Proper nutrition helps replenish the energy the body needs to function properly. The amount of calories someone ingests has a direct correlation with how much energy they will have throughout the day and their overall well-being.
"Food is your life source. If you don't eat properly you won't have enough energy to get up and do [physical training] and complete your mission," said Schoonmaker.
McMahon suggests eating brown rice instead of white rice, wheat bread in place of white bread, and plenty of fresh fruits to help increase the amount of good calories in a meal. While the team of U.S. and Koreans medics is ready to handle any medical emergency, there are a few common ailments that good hygiene can prevent.
Personal hygiene in the field is incredibly important to overall good health, said Schoonmaker. Taking care of your feet and washing your hands can dramatically decrease your chances of catching fungal infections such as athlete's foot.
Many soldiers also experience a lack of sleep, which can compound ailments that soldiers suffer from.
"A lot of people are coming in from the states and having issues," said McMahon.
The shared knowledge and experience between the U.S. and
KATUSA medics has helped this team accomplish its mission.
"But since we're here, we can be that first echelon of care," added McMahon, an Oxford, N.C., native. "We can push them right back out after seeing them so they don't have to be out of the fight."
These partners in care ensure that Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2013 will continue to be a successful joint training exercise. Thanks to the combined abilities of Eighth Army and the KATUSA medics, service members are able to get back on their feet quickly and back to the mission.
"If we were not here, I don't know if this mission could happen…"