Reservists, active duty collaborate during inspection

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Emily Alley
  • 931st Air Refueling Wing

Flu season offers an opportunity for medical personnel to excel at McConnell Air Force Base. 

“It’s probably our busiest time of year,” said SSgt. Dante Dubose, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Medical Group independent duty medical technician.

October, part of flu season, created a unique challenge this year for the 931st Air Refueling Wing’s Medical Group when the unit underwent an inspection.

During the October Unit Training Assembly, active duty members of the 22 ARW supplemented Reservists from the 931 ARW so that the Reserve wing could continue to offer services like flu shots in addition to accomplishing a wing-wide Unit Effectiveness Inspection.

“The wing needed to be able to demonstrate that we are capable of passing the inspection and meeting the inspector’s needs as well as accomplishing our assigned preventative health assessment mission,” said Lt. Col. Michelle Van Sickle, 931st Medical Squadron commander. “We had to think about how to solve that manning dilemma- especially since our influenza immunizations had just arrived for administration.”

Van Sickle reached out to her counterpart at the 22 ARW’s Medical Group, Col. Thomas Williford, who asked his active duty staff to volunteer.

Dubose was one of several active duty Airmen to volunteer to supplement the Reservist staff. He spent Saturday at the clinic giving immunizations, mostly influenza. The sacrifice, he said, was that he was missing an Alabama football game, but luckily a friend was recording it so they could watch it later.

“It’s working out pretty well,” he said.

Another active duty volunteer, Tech. Sgt. Fred Parchman III, a flight chief in the Medical Group, agreed. Parchman said he’s seen Reservists fill in for the active duty to help provide immunizations and flight physicals.

“We have a great relationship,” he said.

Debose described his experience by saying “McConnell is the first place I’ve seen where everyone is pretty fluid and interchangeable. It’s a direct reflection of leadership. Even at the lowest level, we all work together really well.”

For other active duty members, the volunteer request was a learning opportunity.

Capt. Scott Andrews, 349th Air Refueling Squadron active duty flight surgeon, chose to volunteer in order to learn more about the Reserves.

“They sent out an email about a month ago and I decided I could cover,” said Andrews. “I wanted to see what the Reservists are like. It seems to me, you don’t even notice a difference. It’s very easy to work between the two.”

In fact, active duty host Airmen were interviewed by inspectors alongside Reservists. Lt. Col. Richard Speakman, 22 MDG Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander, and several of his staff also participated in the UEI.

“Our inspectors arrived earlier than the rest of the Wing’s. We’ve been in back-to-back meetings Friday, Saturday and Sunday” Van Sickle recalled. “But we did very well in completing the inspection while accomplishing our mission.”

Van Sickle was grateful for the support of the host wing personnel, which both organizations offer each other frequently.

While the wing was able to complete the inspection, the real-world relationships demonstrated the success of both organizations.