SAN FRANCISCO --
U.S. Marine and Navy forces displayed their capabilities of landing and setting up an expeditionary medical aid station in San Francisco’s Ocean Beach Oct. 3.
Sailors serving with Assault Craft Unit 5, a Navy unit out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., stormed the beach on a Landing Craft Air Cushion carrying heavy logistical equipment and tactical vehicles. The LCAC departed from the USS Makin Island, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship that’s carrying the Marines and sailors of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Aside from capturing the attention of the Bay Area community who came out for the demonstration, the landing showed the ship-to-shore response capabilities the 13th MEU has when the Navy and Marine Corps employs an amphibious expeditionary task force.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Pendleton Johnson, an information technician with Beach Master Unit 1, a Navy unit stationed in Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Calif., said the landing gave the people of San Francisco the ability to see how emergency supplies can be brought in any case, such as a natural disaster.
“[The hovercrafts] can carry up to two [battle] tanks on each hover craft,” said the Glendora, Calif., native. “So they can carry a great amount of supplies whether it’s in a combat scenario or a civilian support scenario.”
During an actual crisis response scenario, Navy medical personnel would set up a shock and trauma tent and a forward resuscitative surgical system tent on shore to collect and treat casualties within an hour of landing.
Sailors working inside the expeditionary medical center said their main mission is to save lives and limbs, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony Chow, a corpsman serving with 1st Medical Battalion at the forward resuscitative surgical system tent on the beach.
Lieutenant Commander Brian Beale, the officer in charge of the advisory training group of 1st Medical Battalion, said “the important thing to know about the expeditionary medical aid center is that when employed, they’re highly mobile, rapidly deployable and can be almost anywhere in just a moment’s notice.”
“If something were to happen, and the Navy and Marine Corps medicine team were called upon, we want the people of San Francisco to know what it is that we have to bring to the table to help out in the event that there’s some type of require for disaster relief,” said Beale, a native of Houston. “It doesn’t only have to be Afghanistan where we practice this type of medicine and this type of help. We can bring it to the forefront of the shores here at home and can provide the maximal amount of assistance that this setup allows to do for the city of San Francisco.”
Anyone who came to see the Marines and Navy kick off San Francisco Fleet Week by storming Ocean Beach were also given the opportunity to take a look inside the tents and ask sailors questions. The medical aid station was fully set up as it would be for a real-life scenario, but mimicked live casualties with dummies. Chow, who was born in the Philippines, said everyone was impressed and fascinated with their capabilities of a rapid response and abilities to save lives in any austere scenario with their expeditionary medical equipment.
Sergeant Ron Reynolds of the San Francisco Police Department said he remembers working with first responders during the earthquake of 1989 in San Francisco and did not have the full capabilities for the first two days to help those in need.
The police officer of 30 years said it’s important that the Bay Area community know what the Navy and Marine team can do for a city who needs help when disaster strikes.
“If we had a catastrophe here, we can be overwhelmed very easily. It’s really reassuring to go home at night and know the Navy and Marines can be here providing help and aid right off the bat,” Reynolds said. “I’m extremely impressed with the professionalism I’ve seen in this whole operation.”