HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — The 419th Medical Squadron is made up of about 105 Reserve Citizen Airmen who specialize in caring for the wing’s most valuable assets – its people.
The squadron has flight surgeons, nurses, emergency medical technicians, dentists and dental hygienists, as well as pharmacy, optometry, bioenvironmental and lab technicians.
Ninety-two percent of MDS personnel are traditional reservists who serve part-time while pursuing full-time careers in the civilian sector.
“It never ceases to amaze me, the breadth of experience our reservists bring to the squadron from their civilian careers,” said Lt. Col. Charles Needham, 419th MDS commander, who also works as a cardiothoracic surgeon in Idaho Falls, Idaho. “All the knowledge and expertise that you’d expect from their private practice, they bring that here and we utilize it.”
During once-monthly Unit Training Assembly weekends, MDS personnel come together to provide medical services to the wing’s 1,200 reservists, providing routine physicals and ensuring each is up to date on immunizations and other health requirements to ensure they are ready to deploy.
They also break into their respective areas of expertise and complete intensive training so they themselves are ready to deploy to provide medical expertise during combat or humanitarian missions.
Additionally, the squadron’s six flight surgeons are responsible for the care and keeping of the wing’s F-35 pilots, providing specialized physiological care given the unique stresses related to flying in high-g environments.
Last year, dentists and dental hygienists from the MDS deployed in support of humanitarian operations to provide basic dental treatment to people in the village of Tata, Morocco. The MDS is slated to complete two weeks of rigorous Annual Tour training this summer at a level-five Army trauma hospital in the Pacific region.
Reservists are trained to the same standard as active duty and provide “bang for the buck” working just one weekend a month and two weeks a year.