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NMCPHC to Focus on Scenario-Based Training

The following is a release from the U.S. Navy:

The Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) announced changes to the training and certification process for Forward Deployable Preventive Medicine Units (FDPMU) Oct. 8.

The changes are designed to enhance the capability and effectiveness of Navy public health professionals in operational settings and include the development of more complex and relevant scenario-based exercises that typically occur during the annual FDPMU Operational Readiness Evaluation (ORE).

OREs typically occur over a six-day period, and the scenarios are based on either wartime support or humanitarian and civic assistance, or possibly a combination of both missions.

According to Lt. Cmdr. Jamal Dejli, ORE Exercise Director and NMCPHC’s Deputy Director for Preventive Medicine, the ORE provides a mechanism for identification of team and individual strengths along with limitations and opportunities for improvement.

“Teams are evaluated on their competency and proficiency as they respond to the various scenarios presented while operating in a deployed environment,” said Dejli. “Competency-based, proficiency-driven individual training standards were employed to evaluate the utilization of FDPMU equipment.”

This year’s ORE took place Sept. 15 through 19 at Fort Story, Va. for FDPMU teams from the Navy Environmental Preventive Medicine Unit Two (NEPMU-2), Norfolk.

The exercise, is now being held on the East Coast as well as Camp Pendleton, Calif. In an effort to help manage costs, the exercise offered participants an opportunity to test their skills individually and as a team in areas such as pest control; air, soil and water quality assessment, health risk communication, disease outbreak investigation and response, and chemical and biological warfare agents detection.

The exercise scenarios were recently reduced from 24 to 12 and revised based upon the Navy Mission Essential Tasks List (NMETL). More importantly, the scenarios are more complex and involve different FDPMU components. This ORE involved scenarios simulating a joint exercise between the U.S. and Taiwanese armed forces operating in Taiwan. During the exercise, a simulated earthquake hit Taiwan, and the FDPMU provided support following the establishment of a tent city for internally displaced populations (IDP).

Exercise participants had to manage various “threats” to the operational forces as well as the civilian population. Scenarios included a suspected scrub typhus outbreak investigation in the U.S. military barracks, a suspected unknown samples analysis for biological and chemical warfare agents, occupational and environmental health site assessment in a Taiwanese port, IDP camp insects and rodent complaints investigation.

“The ORE concluded with a comprehensive assessment of the occupational and environmental hazards identified in the scenario with associated health risk to forces operating in the area,” said Lt. Cmdr. George Vancil, NMCPHC’s FDPMU Program Manager.

According to Hospital Corpsman Seaman Derek Galvao, NEPMU-2 Preventive Medicine Technician (PMT) and exercise participant, the ORE touched on many key points.

“Every person on the team is vital in completing the mission, even the most junior,” said Galvao. “I feel confident that we would be ready to face any mission-related task.”

“As a member of two deployed FDPMU teams – Haiti, Kuwait – and having been through multiple OREs over the years, I valued the opportunity to pass on those operational experiences and real-world lessons learned to the current team,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ryan Predum, NEPMU-2 Laboratory Technician. “The NEPMU2 ready-team has been training together for months and the ORE gave all involved a chance to work and live in a simulated operational environment and tackle some very realistic scenarios.”

“The team had great leadership in the OIC, component-leads and subject matter experts collaborated well on scenarios, and communication was free flowing throughout the team,” added Predum.

FDPMU’s are being called upon to support increasingly diverse missions that include providing front-line force health protection to U.S. and coalition forces, and scenario-based OREs help ensure that these preventive medicine teams are ready to respond.

“Through this final phase evaluation, the team effectively demonstrated the capability to provide flexible and sustainable FHP support across a wide spectrum of operations,” said Vancil.

NEPMU-2’s team successfully completed this ORE and is certified as surge-ready for world-wide deployability.

According to Capt. Dexter Hardy, NMCPHC Director for Preventive Medicine, a realistic scenario-based training program is critical for preparing operational preventive medicine teams for deployment.

“ORE’s are capstone training events to ensure our teams can effectively and efficiently deliver advanced public health services to the warfighter anytime – anywhere,” said Hardy.

For more information on FDPMU capabilities, please visit the NMCPHC website.

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