July 24th, 2014
Camp Parks, Calif.
It’s that time of year again and I’m in uniform for two weeks with the Army Reserve. My Sustainment Brigade is lead on a logistics exercise in the Bay Area of California. Half of us are at Camp Park (East of Oakland, near Livermore), the other half at the Port of Alameda (adjacent to Oakland).
My medical team consists of a Treatment Team (me, my NCOIC, and 3 medics) and two ground ambulances, each with two additional medics. That is enough people to run evac and treatment at one location. For various reasons, however, I only have my NCOIC and 4 medics. And we’re covering two locations. We are stretched very thin.
That being said, the acting Brigade Surgeon, 1LT Dyas, is an athletic trainer, orthopedic tech, and has excellent musculoskeletal exam skills. And my NCOIC, SSG Ramirez, is a few months shy of being a licensed chiropractor. No small amount of orthopedic skill between them. And the four medics I do have are all solid. Almost one week into the exercise, we’re doing a good job of providing excellent medical care.
At Camp Parks our Aid Station is a break room in a building near our command post tents. Hours are reasonable, and patient volume has been low. We are sleeping in converted WWII barracks, but they have been nicely refurbed and the two-man rooms are quite nice, complete with air conditioning.
The conditions at Alameda are somewhat different. All the soldiers down there are sleeping and eating on the USS Hornet, a WWII vintage aircraft carrier. Which is said to be haunted. Sick call is held in a classroom near the eating area, and the medics work by day out of one of our ambulances on the dock near where our troops are loading and unloading ships. This is called tailgate medicine, which is a damn accurate description.
The wildlife at Camp Parks is diverse. We have seen a large buck, skunk, innumerable group squirrels, geese, and a family of wild turkeys that lives around the barracks. They are rather unperturbed by human presence, probably because everyone thinks they are pretty cool and leaves them alone.
Oh, and Buzz Aldrin was on the USS Hornet Saturday for an anniversary of being picked up by it after splashing down from space. Two of my medics got a photo in the Chronicle shaking hands with him, SPC Gober (back to camera left) and SPC Lofland (back to camera right.)