Maj. Marissa Marquez, 752nd Medical Squadron, March Air Reserve Base, Calif., is one of a handful of medical professionals who has been invited to present a briefing at the Interallied Confederation of Medical Reserve Officers’ (CIOMR) mid-winter meeting, being held today, in Brussels, Belgium.
The CIOMR is part of the Reserve Officer Association and is their international NATO affiliate, said Marquez, an Air Force Reserve Command International Health Specialist (IHS). In February they have the mid-winter meeting at the NATO headquarters to discuss medical matters.
“Major Marquez represents all the great things the Air Force Reserve has to offer – outstanding caregiving skills, communication ability and research ability,” said Col. Karl J. Edelmann, commander, 452nd Medical Group. “By presenting to an international Reserve forum she is able to share real-world clinical experience across the joint and allied spectrums while keeping herself fully focused on the mission at home.”
Marquez’s presentation documents the Panama Medical Readiness Training Exercise, also known as MEDRETE, that was carried out by Air National Guard, Reserve, and active duty units in the Province of Coclé, Panama, from August 18-31, 2012. The medical team from March ARB was one of five Reserve units to participate in the Panama MEDRETE.
The purpose of her presentation is to provide an overview of the mission background and objectives, discuss the mission impact, and share the lessons learned with international military nurse colleagues.
“The MEDRETE is a joint force humanitarian medical mission with the Panamanian Ministry of Health,” said Marquez. “We saw patients working together with their health care providers for medical, dental, optometry, women’s health and immunizations.”
Forty U.S. military members were selected for this humanitarian and civic assistance mission, and Marquez was one of two chosen from March ARB.
“The MEDRETE focuses on building medical partnerships with other countries in peacetime before they need assistance,” said Marquez. “We support theater engagement plans, create partnerships with medical colleagues from nations within their regions, facilitate military-to-military and military-to-civilian interactions, and support medical planning operations and deployments.”
This was an opportunity for Airmen to use their skills in a non-military environment, maintain cultural awareness and practice international communication.
“The main mission is to assist them and learn from them,” said Marquez. “It’s part of a global health engagement, and at the same time it is good exposure for us to learn more about the different countries.”
The military has played a significant role in providing humanitarian assistance and an IHS is encouraged to share information if he or she has participated in medical missions internationally.
“It’s better for us (IHS) to share this information rather than someone else, because we are the front line and we know what was done by the U.S.,” said Marquez. “We helped established interoperable capabilities in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, health care services and optimized partner nation military capabilities.”
Marquez also presented the Panama MEDRETE briefing at the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS) in Seattle, Wash., in November 2013.
According to Marquez’s AMSUS presentation, the Panama MEDRETE was able to identify the training and medical needs of the local population. This led to the ability to provide medical assistance to 9,400 local citizens, even in extremely rural areas.
Sharing the information at the CIOMR meeting will promote the success of MEDRETE and its importance, said Marquez. It provided an in-depth, hands on experience of what the U.S. Air Force can do.
“It’s exciting to see the depth of commitment and breadth of expertise we have in the Air Force Reserve, especially at the unit level,” said Edelmann. “Recognizing an officer like Major Marquez is recognizing the entire medical group and wing for the outstanding people-oriented work they all so willingly give.”