SANTA FE, N.M. - Members of the New Mexico State Defense Force (NMSDF) in conjunction with Española Valley High School Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (JROTC) participated in a weeklong training exercise (13-21 July) at the New Mexico National Guard’s Oñate Military Complex.
New Mexico Department of Health staff provided training in the operation of a point of dispensing (POD) site. A POD is a temporary facility, activated as a result of a public health threat that is designed to provide medical countermeasures —medications or vaccinations— to a large number of people in a short period of time. The training was a valuable refresher for the members of the NMSDF as one of their primary missions is the operation of a POD site (e.g., triage, screening, treatment, and support). Additionally, the Española Valley High School JROTC is organized to assist as a Junior Medical Reserve Corps—the only such unit in the State.
Lt. Col. David Durham, commanding officer of the NMSDF’s 47th Medical Troop said if a request for a POD activation is made to the NMSDF, it will be tasked to the 47th Medical Troop.
“The 47th represents a team of experts ranging from experienced trauma surgeons, seasoned paramedics, and experienced first responders,” said Durham. “We are training to bring a brain trust to add substantial depth of support to the New Mexico National Guard."
The week of training was diverse in its content, blending classroom training with field operations. Personnel, who were housed in field tents at the Oñate Complex, began their days early and trained late into the evening. It was a blended learning environment wherein the members of the NMSDF and the JROTC cadets benefitted by being both teachers and students. More importantly, it offered a collective experience that deepened unit cohesion, commitment, and strengthened the bond of camaraderie that already exists within the units.
Having spent a week with the JROTC cadets, the members of the NMSDF routinely expressed their respect for the cadets as the cadets demonstrated commitment and dedication to one another and their team. Maj. Mark Gonzales, the commanding officer for the Española Valley High School JROTC, who is also the chief of staff for the NMSDF, played a significant role in planning the dual organization training.
NMSDF members traveled from throughout the state to attend the annual training. They are volunteers who donate their time, money, and talents with the intention to serve those in their community. Their purpose is reflective of the motto that is proudly displayed on their unit patch—Los Vecinos (The Neighbors).