28th MDG has gone mobile
By Airman 1st Class Christina Bennett, 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 29, 2020
ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
Ellsworth is one of only two Air Force Global Strike bases to have a Mobile Expeditionary Readiness Clinic – also known as the MERC.
The MERC, a mobile medical trailer, was designed with Airmen in mind. The 28 1/2 foot trailer is capable of providing health care directly to Airmen at their work locations across the installation.
“The MERC is equipped to provide various clinical services such as: basic primary care, face-to-face Periodic Health Assessments (PHAs) and Mental Health Assessments (MHAs), immunizations, preventative labs, dental services and even physical therapy,” said Master Sgt. Victor Figueroa, a 28th Medical Group independent duty medical technician (IDMT), and the clinical operations lead for the MERC.
A large advantage of having the MERC is the ability it has to provide health care to mid or night shift workers without disrupting their sleep schedules.
“The MERC can assist in removing barriers to care as we now have the ability to travel out to units during any shift,” said 1st Lt. Danielle McSheffrey, the 28th MDG medical logistics flight commander, and logistics lead for the MERC. “With the MERC, we can see a lot of patients at once for the same thing – think flu shots – for entire units at one time. The goal of having the MERC is to keep our line members on the line, while increasing medical readiness.”
Recently, the MERC was helpful in facilitating the mass COVID-19 testing of Bomber Task Force (BTF) deployers. Over 150 Airmen were tested under limited time constraints.
Additionally, the MERC has the capabilities to assist first responders if there is a need for additional medical support off-base.
“When used off base, the MERC can provide sustained on-site support for responders, such as an aircraft accident,” said Figueroa. “While not the primary use for the MERC, this platform is adaptable enough to be dispatched to a location that requires a care platform for an extended period of time.”
The function of the MERC here at Ellsworth AFB is to ensure we are providing the best possible care to all of our uniformed members across the installation.
“As Medics, we are charged with maintaining the human weapons system – Airmen. They are the cornerstone of our Air Force’s competitive advantage,” said McSheffrey. “We realize how valuable Airmen’s time is, and the MERC provides us with a tool to limit the amount of time our Airmen will need to be away from their duty stations for certain types of medical care.”
Currently, the MERC is in the process of dispatching to work centers across the base to administer this years’ round of influenza immunizations. Once the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has distributed additional flu immunizations, Airmen can expect to visit the second and largest medical trailer in AFGSC!