New Hampshire Guard Provides Health Care in Cherokee Nation

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Victoria Nelson,
  • 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – New Hampshire National Guardsmen and sister services provided the Cherokee Nation with more than a quarter-million dollars in health care exams and services during their joint two-week Innovative Readiness Training June 4-18.

All the training was mission-essential for Guard members, who practiced real-world patient care and completed more than 35 instructional courses.

“It’s a unique experience in that we get to support the community’s needs as a product of our training,” said 2nd Lt. Nick Carano, the officer in charge of the 157th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package element.

“Medics are required to keep their certifications up to date,” he said. “Here they get to do that while operating with patients in real-time and truly supporting local residents.”

Airmen, Sailors and Soldiers provided 445 Cherokee Nation patients with 3,235 procedures and services in dentistry, physical exams, optometry and pharmaceutical care training. The work of all combined efforts and programs saved $300,000 in value for the community.

Courses from the American Heart Association and Tactical Combat Casualty Care were also taught during the week. More than 60 members were trained and certified and 466 hours of ancillary training was completed.

“When we look at all of the numbers, everything looks the same on a spreadsheet,” said Master Sgt. Meghan O’Regan, the noncommissioned officer in charge of training with the 157th Medical Group. “But real-world, Airmen and Soldiers experienced situations that can’t be emulated in a classroom environment.”

“They were able to perform lifesaving compressions for the first time,” she said. “You can’t replicate that feeling or explain it with a PowerPoint.”

In Tulsa, riding with Emergency Medical Services Authority, a Soldier performed CPR on a patient for the first time and Guard members stabilized a pregnant woman with seizures. Many Guard members experienced patients with behavioral health complications for the first time.

“Innovative readiness training brings us back to the ‘why,’ why we enlist and why we continue to serve,” said Col. Nelson Perron, the 157th Air Refueling Wing commander. “Our Airmen get the chance to have extensive training and do exactly what they signed up to do, all in the heart of communities in need.”

During the IRT, the clinic was scheduled to provide 72 hours of training. By the end of the two weeks, patients were treated for over 80 hours with more than 7,000 clinical hours and an additional 288 hours of EMSA ride-along care.

The basketball court in Sequoyah High School grew busier each open day. Drawings of service members, coloring book pages and thank you letters from children waiting for parents spread throughout the hallways. They were 40 colorful reminders of the new skills, new experiences and new friends in Cherokee Nation.

“Forty,” said Carano. “That was my favorite number all week.”