Joint Base Lewis-McChord sent seven military personnel east Sunday afternoon to help prevent the spread of disease in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, and planned to send six more later that night.
The crew of 13, mostly specialists with the 227th Preventive Medicine Detachment, 62nd Medical Brigade, expected to help check water quality, do restaurant inspections and help monitor shelter conditions in either New York or New Jersey. They also anticipated assessing the rodent situation in affected areas.
People are going to try to reopen (their businesses), and we have to make sure theyre not going to make people sick with foodborne illness, Pfc. Lacey Purciful said while waiting to deploy. Wherever they need us, were ready to go.
The service members were scheduled to fly to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey in two groups Sunday, where they expected to join another preventive medicine detachment from North Carolinas Fort Bragg as part of the militarys joint task force helping with relief efforts.
Were told that they want us to hit the ground running, said Scott Stanley, executive officer with the 227th. He said he was excited to be able to practice our trade in a humanitarian setting.
The JBLM detachment has been training in recent weeks on how to use skills on humanitarian missions rather than on military settings.
The 227th returned from its last deployment in 2010, where it helped inspect and survey the conditions of military camps in Iraq.
When you train on something, you really want to execute it, said Lt. Col. Kimberlee Aiello, commander of the 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, who is responsible for the 227th.
The group was told Friday that it might be sent, and received confirmation Saturday.
Their supplies already were packed, though. The detachment was designated for a severe-weather mission from June 1 to Nov. 30, to be on call for disasters such as Sandy.
The members expect to be deployed for up to 30 days, though it could be longer.
Theyll stay as long as theyre needed, Aiello said. Their families are prepared for them to not be back for Thanksgiving.
In addition to the 227th, two members of the 508th Military Police Battalion and one from the 47th Combat Support Hospital were part of the 13 deployed Sunday.
Its Americans helping Americans, Aiello said. Theyre very excited.
Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268