Pacific Lifeline: PACAF validates humanitarian relief concept Published Feb. 8, 2008 By Senior Master Sgt. Charles Ramey 13th Air Force Public Affairs KONA, Hawaii -- "Pacific Air Forces is mission ready." That is the consensus reached by leaders following two weeks of instruction and practical application as part of Pacific Lifeline 2008, which ceases field training exercises Feb. 7. A total force exercise staged from three locations within the Hawaiian Islands, Pacific Lifeline provided approximately 900 Department of Defense personnel a test environment to rapidly deploy and provide time-critical services in the wake of a simulated natural disaster. While members of the Air Force Reserve fine-tuned aeromedical staging and transport skills, approximately 250 PACAF Airmen field tested and validated a new stand-alone humanitarian medical package for the U.S. Air Force. Called the Humanitarian Relief Operations Operational Capability Package, or "HUMRO OCP," PACAF integrated its medical support capabilities with dedicated contingency response forces at the Kona International Airport to turn a four-acre field into a fully functional medical support base. "The contingency response and expeditionary medical support pieces of the HUMRO OCP have been around for several years, but under this concept we have the flexibility to quickly come together and provide humanitarian assistance," said Col. Nicholas Miniotis, commander of the 3rd Dental Squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, and PACAF EMEDS commander during Pacific Lifeline. "In less than 24 hours after arriving, we had a fully-functional hospital up and running with emergency and operating rooms, intensive care unit, a 10-bed ward and the capability to provide pediatric, obstetrics/gynecology, radiology, dental and other services." The Kona medical support team consisted of more than 90 Airmen from Elmendorf and Kadena Air Base, Japan. After setting up the hospital, they participated in a week of EMEDS refresher courses taught by instructors from the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, Brooks City-Base, Texas. Following the training, they were evaluated on their skills during an intense three-day mass-casualty exercise. "In a real world environment, we would have the capability to see up to 1,000 patients per day if most of them were walk-ups with minor needs," Colonel Miniotis said. "During the mass casualty exercise, we treated more than 200 simulated inpatients with severe and critical care needs over a 48-hour period. This included performing 10 general surgeries and delivering five babies which is realistic to what we might see during a humanitarian event." Previously, the Air Force provided medical services from established locations where the hospital could rely on existing base support. Under the HUMRO OCP concept, the Air Force deploys a stand-alone, self-sufficient "off-the-shelf" package designed for quick employment. Units such as the 36th Contingency Response Group at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, provide the base operations support needed for the Air Force to carry out a variety of missions in austere and bare base environments. "The 36th CRG has the capability to immediately assess, open, establish and operate an air base," said Maj. Troy Roberts, commander of the 736th Security Forces Squadron at Andersen, and the expeditionary contingency response squadron commander at Kona during the exercise. "Our strength is that we are self-contained unit with Airmen in more than 30 specialties who can deploy within 12 hours of notice." During Pacific Lifeline, the 36th CRG deployed with more than 85 Airmen and over a 24-36-hour period, set-up base operational support to include security, airfield management, water and power production, food services and a tent city capable of housing 300. "I give the HUMRO OCP concept two thumbs up," Major Roberts said. "What we've done is create a capability that can rapidly come in, assess the situation, and provide an immediate response to any humanitarian situation." With the largest area and population in the world, the Pacific is the ideal location to test the HUMRO OCP. "In this region it's not a matter of 'if' it's a matter of 'when' a natural disaster or humanitarian event will strike," said Col. Kevin Kersh, 36th Contingency Response Group commander and the Air Force's air expeditionary wing commander during Pacific Lifeline. Events like the 2004 Southeast Asia Tsunami and Cyclone Sidr which recently hit Bangladesh emphasize the urgent need for an immediate response when injuries or the threat of disease may be widespread. Pacific Lifeline has validated PACAF and the Air Force's ability to project Airmen and airpower when time is of the essence. We are organized, trained, equipped and most-importantly 'ready' when the call comes."