14th Combat Support Hospital provides medical support in Puerto Rico
By Megan Garcia, Fort Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence Public Affairs
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Oct. 9, 2017) – Soldiers from the 14th Combat Support Hospital stationed on post recently arrived in Puerto Rico to support the Department of Defense’s top priority to provide life-saving and life-sustaining support to those affected by Hurricane Maria.
The hospital was placed on the Defense Support Civil Authorities mission in August, a process by which United States military assets and personnel can be used to assist in missions normally carried out by civil authorities.
“We monitor severe weather, so anytime there is a need stateside or abroad such as natural disasters or humanitarian support, we look at what’s needed and provide different medical services,” said Col. Rachele Smith, the 14 CSH commander. “We started monitoring Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Jose, and then Maria. We were put on warning orders throughout, but were never sent to any of those as smaller medical elements were assigned.”
The unit is providing Role 3 Medical Capabilities in Puerto Rico, which consist of a 44-bed package. The hospital will have emergency medical technician, operating room, X-Ray, lab, pharmacy, primary care and intensive care unit capabilities.
The 926th Preventive Medicine Detachment, a subordinate unit of the 14th CSH, also left Oct. 2 to provide preventive medicine support and technical consultation in Puerto Rico.
Smith said the units have continued to train throughout the year and completed a validation exercise in September to stay prepared should they be required to assist in any operations.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity and privilege to deploy in support of a DSCA mission,” said Smith. “My team has done amazing work when it came to the validation exercise and integration of our professional clinical personnel from across the nation and really building those teams. I couldn’t be more proud of the work that they did. That gives me the trust and confidence that they are ready, and that we are ready to assume this mission and deploy on a moment’s notice when needed.”