CASS LAKE, Minn. --
CASS LAKE, Minnesota - U.S. Air Force airmen from the 133rd Medical Group, St. Paul, Minn., partnered with members from the 148th Medical Group, Duluth, Minn. and Reservists from around the United States to execute a two-week medical Innovative Readiness Training.
Approximately 30 airmen from the 133rd Medical Group, Minnesota Air National Guard, along with members from 24 reserve and guard units administered medical, dental, and optometry care to residents of Cass Lake and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe at no cost to the community. This Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) was a great opportunity to train with airman from across the country in order to receive a wider training perspective. Additional support provided by reservists from Force Support Squadron prepared each meal for the service members and an individual from 133rd Transportation helped bus them to and from the site.
Innovative Readiness Trainings, like the one in Cass Lake, build partnerships with local communities through military services while allowing Airmen to complete hands-on training. The community welcomed the airmen with open arms and Lt. Col. Duane Linn, Deputy Officer in Charge mentioned, “There are a lot of military veterans within this community and they have welcomed us wholeheartedly.”
Cass Lake-Bena High School hosted the two-week IRT and all the airmen who executed the mission. The mission had the capability to serve roughly 2,500 patients. The high school facilities met the essential needs of the mission and the airmen who stayed at the school. From a locker room for airmen to shower, a kitchen to prepare each meal, and classrooms to set up cots for sleeping. The science labs were even converted into dental exams areas along with plenty of space to set up processing lines and medical exam areas.
For some airmen, such as Airman Abdikhaliq Abdi, a Dental Technician from the 133rd Medical Group, this was his first experience working in the field. “I’m really grateful to be here and given this opportunity to actually go outside my comfort zone and work with different people and get the experience I need.” Airman Abdi embraced mentorship from a dentist who worked one-on-one with him giving him valuable training in the field. Other service members took this time to cross-train within their medical unit to broaden their skill sets.
Patients were greeted at the registration table with snacks and additional informational resources from the local community. As patients worked their way through the medical processing line, the services included: medical, such as vitals and sports physicals, dental exams along with fillings and extractions, and lastly optometry, which offered eye exams and prescriptions.
Overall, all of the airmen on this mission embraced the Air Force Core Value of “Service Before Self” as they came together quickly. When asked what it was like to work with airmen from all over the country, Lt. Col. Linn responded, “We are all here to do the mission - to serve the community.”