172nd Medical Group Prescribes More Than Medical Care

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Ed Staton
  • 172d Airlift Wing

Although first thoughts of an Air National Guard medical group does is to give shots, update medical records and help set up physicals, the 172nd Airlift Wing’s Medical Group actually provides many services that will make you say, “Wow!” instead of “Aahhhh.”

As a matter of fact, many of the assignments completed during the week by the 172nd Airlift Wing’s Medical Group extend far beyond traditional medical-based missions.

“Throughout the week we do a lot of occupational health,” Lt. Col Setrick Johnson said. “We do our shop visits and focus on public health and bio-environmental. We also offer lab services and focus on processing a lot of the cases that we receive on a drill weekend such as line of duties, waivers and more.”

Johnson serves as the wing’s medical administrative officer on a day to day basis and as the deputy medical group commander during UTA weekends.

The group operates with 11 personnel during the week and then expands to 80 during UTA weekends. Despite having a much smaller team on a weekly basis, wing medical personnel comprising bio-environmental, public health and administrative roles, provide many key services in and outside of the clinic.

“Our bio-environmental team has multiple missions,” Johnson said. “We conduct noise testing on the flight line for our maintainers to make sure they’re not exposed to any risks.”

The bio-environment team also monitors activities in the corrosion hangar while they are painting the aircraft to ensure Airmen are operating with proper safety equipment (PPE) and that the air quality is acceptable and free of contaminants such as lead that could be inhaled.

“They monitor potential hazards to ensure that our Airmen are not being exposed to undue risks,” Johnson exclaimed. “We make sure your water is safe, we measure air quality and that each one of our shops are not exposed to risks and hazards.

The medical group completes more traditional assignments throughout workweeks. The team operates with a continuous monthly cycle that includes a week of pre-drill prep, a week of post drill follow up and two weeks to get everything else done.

“We process our first-term Airmen out and we spend a lot of time with pre and post deployment Airmen,” Johnson explained.

The wing’s medical group staff and assignments expand greatly during UTA’s. The team supports Thompson Field personnel and Airman that comprise the 172 AW’s GSU’s at the CRTC in Gulfport.

“Our weekend focus is two-fold,” Johnson said. “We support our 1,300-plus Airmen and conduct preventive health assessments (PHAs) that break down our Airmen into two categories; flyers and non-flyers.”

172 AW members might notice that on UTA Sundays, the clinic’s working hours are often restricted. That is because that is when the group commanded by Col. Patrick Kirby, concentrates on internal core medical training.

Like the rest of the wing, the medical group is continuing to evolve and enhance readiness.  Expect to see a mission growth spurt on their medical chart very soon!