HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — While driving past a building that has hundreds of containers stacked behind it on the west side of Hill AFB, you may have wondered, “What is that all about?” The personnel in building 1160 have a special mission supporting the warfighter.
Building 1160 is the home of DLA Distribution’s Medical Assembly and Shelter Repair (DEPMEDS). Established in the early 1980s and moving to Hill AFB’s building 1160 in 2002, DEPMEDS consists of two separate missions as the organization’s name suggests.
The first is the medical assembly mission, which is in support of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency (USAMMA). DLA Distribution employees have the responsibility to fill the necessary orders ranging from restocking a small dentist office to the assembly of everything required for a full, thousand-bed deployable hospital. The assembly team also has the responsibility for creating kits ranging from combat lifesaver kits small enough for the warfighter to carry on their belt, to large kits carried in a vehicle.
The assembly group also conducts a mission they call “disassembly.” This requires the team to unpack hospitals that had been packed years ago, stored for use in a potential future conflict but, fortunately, never used. Some of the disassembly comes directly from the field where a hospital has been deployed, each capturing reusable material and assets.
The second mission requires the efforts of talented mechanics, painters, mechanics’ helpers, and inspectors as they repair, refurbish, and update deployable expandable shelters. These shelters are used as communication centers, surgical centers, x-ray rooms, and many other structures in the field.
A testament to the quality of these efforts was evident when a customer visited and saw a new shelter sitting side-by-side with a completely refurbished shelter. The customer questioned the apparent quality differences between the new shelter and the refurbished shelter. It was at that time they were told that they were mistaken. The shelter they had thought to be the new shelter was, in fact, a shelter that was originally built in the 1980s and had been deployed and refurbished several times at a cost just one-fifth that of a new shelter.
Over the last 35+ years, the personnel of DEPMEDS have been supporting the warfighter by acting as the conduit in their medical and tactical needs. Brig. Gen. Richard Dix, former commander of DLA Distribution who has been wounded twice in combat said, “The medical needs of an operation should never be underestimated.”
The next time you cross the railroad tracks coming on to the base from the Roy/5600 South Gate, take a moment to notice the building to the west. Know that the personnel working there are continuing a longstanding tradition of deployable medical support as well as the medical and tactical support of expandable shelters that are a part of many of the programs that you may support in your mission.
One Team, One Fight!