As relief supplies continue to pour into Joplin, Mo., in response to the devastating tornado that struck a week ago, a special delivery arrived courtesy of the Missouri Wing of Civil Air Patrol, the U.S. Air Force auxiliary. At the request of the Missouri-1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team, 200 doses of urgently needed tetanus vaccine were transported from St. Louis to Joplin.
The vaccine, donated by Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, required expedited delivery due to its limited shelf life. Capts. Pete Pilcher and Gil Franck, both of the Gateway Senior Squadron, flew the four-hour roundtrip mission from Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield. The special delivery arrived Saturday, May 28, and was immediately delivered to a field hospital established by MO-1 DMAT.
“Working cooperatively with our community partners, we were able to provide valuable assistance to our fellow Missourians during this difficult time,” said Lt. Col. David Miller, Missouri Wing’s public affairs officer. A physician in private practice, Miller knows the value such “mercy flights” have during emergencies. “The transport of needed blood, tissue and medicine is another high-priority mission CAP is often called upon to perform – and performs exceptionally well.”
Both Pilcher and Franck have been members of Civil Air Patrol for several years and have worked as pilots in the private sector. “With this being a holiday weekend, it’s wonderful to have volunteers who will take time to help others in need,” noted Lt. Col. Carolyn Rice, mission incident commander and Gateway Senior Squadron commander.
“We’re very grateful for the rapid delivery of our vaccines by the CAP flight today,” said Austin Worcester, executive officer and administrative section chief of MO-1 DMAT. “The hospital staff can’t express its appreciation enough for all of the help it is receiving.”
MO-1 DMAT serves Missouri residents at the direction of the governor. During disasters the team provides medical care in cooperation with the State of Missouri Emergency Management Agency and the State of Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
The team is equipped to respond to a disaster location and to deploy a mobile emergency room and field hospital with capabilities approaching a hospital setting. Operating out of tents or available local structures, the team provides state-of-the-art equipment and a broad spectrum of medical care.
Less than one week after St. John’s Regional Medical Center was destroyed in Joplin by the tornado, MO-1 DMAT established a field hospital adjacent to the ruined medical center with the assistance of the Missouri National Guard, Mercy staff, contractors, laborers of all trades and a variety of state and local agencies. Now known as St. John’s Mercy Field Hospital, it is providing emergency room services to ensure medical care is restored to the residents of Joplin.
The Missouri Wing is composed of more than 1,000 members organized in over 40 units located throughout the state. Formal disaster relief and search and rescue training exercises are held on a regular basis several times each year.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 61,000 members nationwide. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90% of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 113 lives in fiscal year 2010. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counter-drug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 26,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs.