Air Force Reserve Command Prepares To Lead Joint Military Operation Arctic Care 2010
More than 200 military personnel to conduct real-world training providing free medical care to underserved American Indians and Alaska Natives April 10-24
Washington D.C. - March 4, 2010 - Hundreds of military medical personnel from across the country are preparing to deploy to Northern Alaska from April 10 - 24 for Operation Arctic Care (OAC). Air Force, Army and Navy personnel - Guard, Reserve and Active- Duty - from more than 30 states will deploy to Kotzebue, AK and take part in the largest recurring medical readiness and logistics training exercise, providing real-world humanitarian assistance and medical care to underserved U.S. citizens in one of the most isolated regions in the United States.
The operation will be held in Alaska's Northwest Arctic Borough, home to some of the most extreme weather conditions on earth with temperatures ranging from -82 to 86 degrees.
Joint military teams will travel through this harsh environment from Kotzebue to 11 remote villages around Kotzebue and provide medical care including dental, optometry, veterinary, pharmacy and laboratory services, as well as conduct basic health-education classes for village residents.
As there are no roads connecting the villages or Kotzebue from the rest of Alaska, Army Black Hawk helicopters will fly in the medical personnel and equipment to set-up functional field medical clinics.
"This is truly a win-win opportunity for both the military and Alaska residents," said Col. Christine Barber, Arctic Care 2010 Project Manager. "Arctic Care helps simulate preparing and conducting medical outreach operations in the time of crisis, conflict or disaster, while at the same time filling a vital needed for U.S. citizens. Our teams will be seeing patients that have to wait year-to-year to get even the most basic of medical care, such as dental checkups and eye exams."
This year marks the 16th year Operation Arctic Care has been conducted. In 2009, during OAC, medical teams treated more than 1000 general health patients, examined more than 2870 dental patients, performed more than 3080 veterinary procedures and conducted more than 1400 eye exams. They also taught more than 3000 individuals critical basic health skills including: CPR, K-9 Bite Prevention, First Aid and hand washing procedures.
Operation Arctic Care is sponsored by the Innovative Training program under the Office of Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs and one of several Civil-Military Programs called Innovative Readiness Training (IRT.) A different service leads the joint-military exercise each year to maximize training opportunities. The Navy Reserve led OAC in 2009 and the Army Reserve will take the lead next year.
All Civil-Military Programs fall into three main functional areas including engineering, medical and transportation. The programs are in keeping with the long military tradition of leveraging training, resources and capabilities to benefit both military readiness and meet some of the country's civil needs.