Medical Logistics Flight facilitates the mission

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
In order to provide quality medical care, technicians need the necessary equipment. That is where the 509th Medical Support Squadron's Medical Logistic Flight comes in.

The Medical Logistics Flight facilitates the mission by ensuring professionals in the 509th Medical Group have the proper medicine and equipment. Without the support of this dedicated group of logistics experts, there would be no medical care for Team Whiteman.

"The Medical Logistics Flight provides us with the equipment needed to do our X-rays, and without the X-rays, we can't diagnose our patients," said Airman 1st Class Natasha Wohlwend, 509th Medical Support Squadron X-ray technician. "We get roughly 8,000 patients here annually."

Radiology is one of many medical sections relying on support from the Medical Logistics Flight. In addition to X-ray equipment, they provide equipment worth more than $1 million each year to various medical agencies in the 509th MDG. When equipment breaks down or is no longer serviceable, medical logistics Airmen respond to the unit in need.

"The main types of equipment we order are pharmaceuticals and medical equipment used by doctors and technicians," said Tech. Sgt. Chad Coffelt, 509th MDSS medical logistics
NCOIC. "We order more than $4.4 million in pharmaceutical products each year."

The millions of dollars spent in medical supplies and pharmaceuticals purchase a great deal of items - every monthly order averages between 3,000 and 4,000 items. When a unit needs supplies, they process the request in an online system called Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support. Each day the requests placed in DMLSS are transferred into online requests. Once this happens, the Medical Logistics Flight's acquisition department calls the vendor and places the order for the requested items.

"The 509th MDG also scans our pharmaceuticals, which are uploaded into DMLSS and transmitted to the Cardinal Health Facility in Kansas City so the products can be delivered to us the next day," Coffelt said.

In addition to providing equipment, the Medical Logistics Flight has a section responsible for handling equipment.

"We have three technicians that maintain more than 900 items within the facility," said Staff Sgt. David McCann, 509th MDSS biomedical equipment technician. "We usually maintain 75-150 pieces of equipment each month."

Every patient who enters the base's medical facility will come in contact with medical equipment in one form or another, whether through using a thermometer, blood pressure machine or getting an X-ray taken.

Improperly functioning equipment could cause the patient to be rescheduled or sent to another facility.

"Sending patients off-base costs a lot of money for the Air Force," McCann said. "It also drastically affects the amount of time people are away from their work centers, which hinders Whiteman's mission."

McCann said one of the most challenging aspects of handling the equipment is increasing his knowledge base as the technology constantly advances. As new equipment becomes available, biomedical equipment technicians are expected to know how to maintain it.

"We receive general information on a wide range of electrical principles and are left to our own resources to correct problems when they occur," McCann said. "While this can be quite frustrating, when you start to understand how devices work it can be very rewarding."

Even though the training can sometimes be frustrating, the mission cannot be accomplished without it. Because medical logistics affects the success or failure of the base's medical mission, Airmen must understand how to perform their technical specialties.

"One of the most challenging aspects of training for Airmen is ensuring they know what to expect and what to do, especially while deployed," said Coffelt. "Our technicians need to understand where to order supplies from to keep the clinic running."

Whether it is acquisitioning hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment and pharmaceutical supplies or providing equipment maintenance, Airmen from the 509th MDSS Medical Logistic Flight are trained and equipped to keep the medical mission going.