HI-MIRT defines paradise

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Betty J. Squatrito-Martin
  • 154th Wing
When people hear or speak of Hawaii, the word paradise often follows. Visions of sun, surf, palm trees swaying and pineapples are usually conjured by the mind. Most people do not equate paradise with the underprivileged. However, while sand, surf and sun reign supreme, there is a part of Hawaii that is filled with the less fortunate. It is this population that the Hawaii Air National Guard served during the Innovative Readiness Training program in Waianae, Hawaii, July 12-17.

Innovative Readiness Training is a DoD program that brings National Guard personnel into local communities throughout the United States. It is designed to give Guard members an opportunity to complete mission essential training while acting as good neighbors addressing community and civic needs.

"Training drives the program," said Capt. Jason Iyosama, Hawaii Medical IRT, project officer. "It's a great opportunity for traditional Guardsmen to get real world training," he added.

In an effort to meet the objective of the IRT, the Hawaii Air National Guard teamed with the Hawaii Department of Health and built the Hawaii Medical Innovative Readiness Program, "E Malama Kakou," which translates to "To care for all." The program is designed to provide communities within the Hawaiian Islands access to preventative heath assessments, dental assessments, preventative care, referrals to outpatient clinics, and health, wellness and safety education.

This is the third year that the HIANG has hosted "E Malama Kakou;" however, it is the first year the HIANG has had the opportunity to serve as primary medical providers to its local community.

"This year is really special because it's our own Guard taking care of our own people," said Eva Galariada-Rosa, the civilian community and training coordinator for the week's activities.

The thing that actually makes me feel good about being in the military is the opportunity to help anyone who can make it to these events, said Master Sgt. Jeffery Romualdo, 154th Medical Group, 1st Sgt. and dental hygienist. "It's an ohana (family) kind of thing, taking care of our people who live on this island."

It's a win-win situation; Guardsmen are provided training and the community members are provided with much needed medical services, said Captain Iyomasa. We are building relationships one community at a time, he added.

In addition to the 154th Medical Group, Guardsmen from Kentucky and Iowa participated in the week long training along the Leeward Coast of Oahu.

"It's been really great to work here and give back to the community," said Tech. Sgt. Steele. "It [community outreach] shows that we're not only concerned about the mission, but about creating a positive feeling in the community about what we do as well," he added.

By the end of the week, the HIANG medical personnel, augmented by Kentucky and Iowa Guardsmen, had seen nearly 500 people from the Waianae, community, over 150 of those were high school athletes who needed sports physicals.

Anyone who has lived in Hawaii knows that high school sports are an integral part of the local culture of Oahu, particularly on the Leeward coast.

"State law requires that any athlete who wants to participate in any athletics needs to be cleared by a licensed doctor," said Toby Wolff, Waianae High School athletic trainer. "So, this helps out a lot," he added. For a lot of these kids a sports physical is often a financial burden, but with this [HI-MIRT] we bypass all of that, he added.

"I had one kid tell me that he wouldn't have had the opportunity to play at all because they couldn't afford for him to have a sports physical, so he would have just been out; so, it [HI-MIRT] gives them an opportunity to participate in some of the things they may be wouldn't have otherwise had the ability to do," said Lt. Col. Doug Hoisington, flight surgeon, 185th Air Refueling Squadron, Iowa Air National Guard.

Thus, the efforts of the HI-MIRT team were much appreciated. It ensured jerseys would have occupying persons.

In addition to making health and dental assessments available, the "E Malama Kakou," thanks to Tech. Sgt. Steele from Kentucky, was able to provide CPR classes for the public.

"Without Tech. Sgt. Steele's participation in the 'E Malama KaKou,'" we would not have been able to provide the CPR classes to the community," said Capt. Iyosama. "He is an outstanding instructor who brings an abundance of real world experience including 14-years as an emergency medical technician," added Capt. Iyomasa.

By week's end, Tech. Sgt. Steele had certified nearly 80 participants in CPR.
Tech. Sgt. Steele, was so energetic that there's been nothing but praise for the class, said Galariada-Rosa.

"The community loves the military coming in and providing all the services," said Galariada-Rosa

"It's very rewarding to serve our community," said Master Sgt. Lisa Bartolome, health services manager, 154 MDG. "It's a reminder of what our state needs and the services we can provide," she added.

On one occasion Capt. Nathaniel Duff, doctor, 154th Medical Group, went directly to a person's residence in order to render services.

"It's a great surprise," said Gwendolyn Wan, the home bound patient. "It's wonderful, it's a privilege. The military, wow, it's awesome."

From a healthcare provider's point of view, it's been an eye opening experience to actually see how much need there is in our own backyard, said Capt. Duff. "It's been really nice to do what we do best in the National Guard and work with our ohana here in Hawaii."

For the past three years, the HIANG the Hawaii DoH have provided communities within the Hawaiian Islands access to preventative health assessments, dental assessments, preventative care, referrals to outpatient clinics, and health, wellness, and safety education per the DoD directive regarding Innovative Readiness Training.

The HI-MIRT is a great opportunity to let the people know we are here, said Captain Iyosama. It reminds them that in a time of disaster, such as the Tsunami that hit American Samoa, the Guard will be there to help.

"Our community is very grateful" for the services provided, said Galariada-Rosa. "We want them to do this forever."

The sentiment shared by Galariada-Rose was one of many. The overwhelming number of smiles, cheers, and heartfelt thanks heard during the week's training and community outreach made one thing clear. Sometimes paradise isn't measured by surf, sun and sand; sometimes it's measured by a helping hand.