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Medical Logistics supplies the goods

  • Published
  • By By Senior Airman Areca T. Bell
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Imagine lying on an operating table wide awake—no anesthesia or local anesthetic,  all while a surgeon is attempting to operate with a plastic spork.

Sounds like a nightmare, and it probably is.

Luckily, patients won’t have to experience this nightmare in real life because of the work of the 31st Medical Support Squadron Medical Logistics Airmen, who supply the 31st Medical Group with the medical supplies needed to care for Team Aviano and their families.

“We are in charge of the supply line for the 31st Medical Group,” said Tech. Sgt. Alvin Alonzo, 31st MDSS medical material NCO in charge. “We are like the main vein of the hospital. Without us, hospital staff can’t do their job—they can’t see or operate on patients or issue pharmaceuticals.”

The Medical Logistics Flight is made up of six elements including biomedical equipment repair, contract services, facility management, customer service, medical equipment management and acquisitions, which support 64 medical units on a daily basis.

Facility management, customer service, medical equipment management and acquisitions work hand-in-hand to ensure equipment is serviceable, the medical group’s building are in good condition and that all medical supplies are ordered.

Biomedical equipment repair technicians manage and repair 1,832 equipment line-items worth $13.4 million. Additionally, contract services act as a liaison between the medical group and 31st Contracting Squadron for all civilian contractors who work for the 31st MDG.

Airman 1st Class Samuel Van Diest, 31st MDSS customer support representative, explained that each section’s mission is integral to getting the job done.

“I think it’s important for us to work together because it provides a consistent supply of medical supplies for our medical team in order to treat patients,” he said.

In addition to the services provided, the Medical Logistics Flight also has a contingency department called War Reserve Materiel/Home Stationed Medical Response. This department is tasked with stocking 23 assemblages, with medication and medical equipment, which provide hospital services downrange or during unforeseen disasters. Assemblages include an Air Transportable Clinic, with the capability to perform outpatient services, initial trauma response for 30 days and basic lab tests.

“War Reserve Materiel/Home Stationed Medical Response teams are the focal point for maintaining contingency medical supplies,” said Senior Airman Matthew Diotte, 31st MDSS acquisitions supervisor. “We store and maintain the supplies that can save lives. If something goes wrong, we would have enough medical supplies to treat the base and minimize the scope of lost lives.”

According to Alonzo, Medical Logistics’ biggest challenge is ordering and receiving supplies from the U.S. in a timely manner.

“It’s tough being overseas because it prolongs our supply chain cycle,” Alonzo explained. “In the states pharmaceuticals are delivered the next day, but here you have to plan in advance. It takes a lot of coordination because of the delivery time and time difference when ordering items.”

Although getting the job done can be challenging at times, Alonzo explained that helping take care of Team Aviano’s medical needs makes it worthwhile.

“Our focus is patient care,” he said. “It’s very satisfying to know that we play a part in helping patients recover.”

Van Diest also explained that knowing the impact of his job drives him to excel at his daily duties.

“We are like the spine of the hospital—unseen but keeps everything upright and going,” he said.