CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - 1st Medical Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, recently held a three-day training evolution in an effort to standardize and reinforce preventive medicine capabilities aboard Camp Pendleton, California, Nov. 17-19, 2015. Marines, Sailors and subject matter experts came from 1st MLG, I Marine Expeditionary Force, 1st Marine Division and several other units from the western region to re-enforce what they already knew and increase proficiency.
Preventive medicine covers all things health related in a deployed environment: Drinking water, food quality, and hygiene facilities, among other things. Just about anywhere Marines go, there’s preventive medicine in the background keeping things healthy.
“Preventive medicine experts deploy with Marine units in order to support their everyday living,” said HM2 Wilson Araujo, preventive medicine technician at 1st Med. Bn. “We know the Marines have to eat, they have to drink and they have to shower, so we’re there to make sure that’s all a clean and safe environment.”
Preventive medicine techs are responsible for monitoring all these things and more. They have to be able to monitor things like air quality, insect population and disease threats in the area around any forward operating base.
The process doesn’t start after the camp is established, however.
“Typically they’ll send us to the field first, and we do an environmental health site survey to determine where the resources are and how we should arrange the camp,” said Araujo. “The environmental health officer will then lay out the camp within the Navy’s standards.”
The environmental health officer is the supervising force that ensures all things are done to Naval standards and everything is in the proper condition and place it should be.
“My role as an environmental health officer is to inspect these locations and monitor the health of the population there to keep everyone healthy, and we do this is many ways,” said Lt. David Cruz, environmental health officer with 1st Med. Bn. “We test drinking water, monitor the air quality the camp is exposed to and also go to different facilities and inspect them for health purposes.”
The training evolution began at the basics, covering classroom instruction and re-familiarization with the equipment on the first and second day. The third day was the most important. They brought out water purification systems, field shower systems and a wildlife expert for a demonstration and hands-on experience. A group of sailors were also guided through a mess hall inspection to show them what to look for when checking for a healthy and clean environment.
This training carries the same goal as most does, get Marines and Sailors ready for the next deployment.
“The number one thing here is that we’re increasing readiness,” said Cruz. “We’re making sure that our sailors understand the equipment and how to use it so they’re ready to go deploy.”
With the importance of preventive medicine stressed, Cruz and Araujo both agreed this kind of training would hold value as an annual requirement.
“We’re looking forward to increase our training so that we can in turn increase our capacity,” said Cruz. “This training can be a force multiplier for our units and hopefully become an annual requirement.”
Being the first evolution of this training, Araujo said they wanted to build a model for future iterations to follow.
“We’re trying to establish a baseline for this training, and hopefully this becomes a requirement for an annual exercise that gets us familiar with all that we do during deployment, because it’s different when you go to school and learn about it than when you actually come out here and put hands on it all.”
Having drawn representatives from units around the region, 1st Med. Bn. showed the value this training holds and how it will keep them progressing forward and ready for the next deployment wherever they’re needed.