I recently spent 2 days on Ford Island, taking part in RIMPAC, and it was quite the experience! RIMPAC is the largest international maritime exercise in the world, and happens every two years.
I felt very fortunate to participate as a Kalawao Rescue member, where we set up a base of operations, comprised of four large medical tents, a triage tent, and a command center trailer.
I met the Chief Medical Officer of the Chilean Navy, and an official from the Vietnam military, but due to language barriers, I wasn’t sure his rank. He sure liked videoing the pharmacy though!
Going from slippahs and skirts to boots and tactical pants in the heat made for a rough couple of days physically, but the people were amazing, as was the overall experience of meeting high ranking officials from several nations, and taking part in something so huge.
After the first day of working in the dust and sun, it felt amazing to shower in the gym on Ford Island. We had tried to shower on the Missouri, but they had closed already. Imagine showering on a battleship!
We were treated well, with three full meals a day, plenty of comaraderie, and breaks when we needed them. The teamwork was amazing, always is with this group, and it’s a huge reason I stay involved in disaster medicine. The people who take time out of their busy lives to do the training and show up to these exercises, even after working all night, are caring, fun, down to earth, and inspiring to be around.
When it comes down to it, we all have something to offer. Who do you want taking care of you when and if a disaster occurs? Those of us who haven’t been deployed have no idea how we would react to an actual disaster, but we know we care enough to try our best, and that’s what matters.
If you care enough to take the chance of not knowing how you will react in a disaster, consider joining your local Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) or American Red Cross. If you are a licensed health professional, including certified pharmacy technicians and medical assistants, consider joining DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team). They could use good people like you.