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Operational medicine supporting diplomacy at high-threat posts.

The Bureau of Medical Services' (MED) mission safeguards and promotes the health of America's diplomatic community. MED administers the Department's medical program by providing medical support to employees overseas and their family members working abroad. Essential to MED's effort is its Operational Medicine Program, which is executed by the Directorate of Operational Medicine through the Office of Strategic Medical Preparedness and the Office of Protective Medicine. These two offices accomplish this in partnership with Foreign Service medical specialists and health unit staff at posts, Civil Service professionals, DOD officers and private sector professionals dedicated to mitigating medical risk.

The Directorate of Operational Medicine supports biocontainment and crisis response, and contingency medical planning and preparedness (executed by the Office of Strategic Medical Preparedness) and provides direct medical support to security and protective operations (via the Office of Protective Medicine). It also offers executive leadership and oversight of the Operational Medicine Program and manages cross-cutting and crisis-specific task forces, led by its managing director.

Within Operational Medicine, the Office of Strategic Medical Preparedness (SMP) supports the synchronization of medical contingency plans, ensuring that personnel at high-threat posts have well-rehearsed contingency plans for mass-casualty events and that posts are prepared to address the aftermath of a terrorist attack or natural disaster. The Mass Casualty Event Preparedness subprogram conducts mass-casualty event contingency planning and training for mission personnel to prepare them to respond effectively to such events. SMP also works to see that every U.S. government facility overseas has the appropriate medical equipment and supplies to address the aftermath of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or infectious disease outbreak. This critical life-safety effort ensures employees have access to emergency medical kits and pandemic-related pharmaceuticals.

The directorate's Office of Protective Medicine, meanwhile, has a different role. It provides operational medical support for security, crisis, contingency and protective operations worldwide. It does so through subprograms providing embedded medical support to regional security offices at select high-threat posts. One subprogram offers direct medical support to Bureau of Diplomatic Security operations abroad. Another relies on Civil Service emergency management specialists, who provide operational and tactical medical contingency planning and direct medical support for security and protective operations. A third sub-program provides direct medical support to the secretary and the secretary's protective detail. To date, Protective Medicine has provided medical support in more than 75 different locations, primarily high-threat and/or medically austere locations, including South Sudan, Somalia, Antarctica, Central African Republic, Kenya, Algeria, Libya, Pakistan, Iraq and Haiti.

The Secretary sees protecting the health and safety of deployed personnel as a core Department value, and the Directorate of Operational Medicine stands ready to assist in promoting this by mitigating the unique health risks faced by those living and working overseas. Operational Medicine Program Manager Pat Corcoran says his team "thrives when faced with new challenges--a reflection of the people that make up our team. Nobody joined Operational Medicine because it would be easy; they did it because they believe in what we do and take pride in performing honorable service for their country."

By Taundria Cappel and Valentina Tasevska, logistics management specialists, Bureau of Management Services
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Title Annotation:Medical Report
Author:Cappel, Taundria; Tasevska, Valentina
Publication:State Magazine
Date:Jul 1, 2017
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