19-year Air Force IDMT provides care to service members in Belize
By Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs
/ Published April 02, 2014
BELIZE CITY -- A Sulphur, La., native is leading a team of medical technicians as they provide care to U.S. service members deployed to Belize in support of New Horizons 2014.
A 19-year independent duty medical technician and the lead medic in Belize, Master Sgt. Tara Harrison is charged with ensuring U.S. Air Force members receive the best medical care possible as they assist the Belizean government in building schools and hospitals throughout the country.
In addition to providing Air Force members care, Harrison is also working with medics and corpsmen from other U.S. service branches to ensure all medical teams are working cohesively in the joint service environment.
New Horizons is an annual event coordinated amongst U.S. Department of Defense service members, the U.S. Embassy and the host nation government to conduct civil engineer and medical training. The training benefits U.S. forces as they are offered an opportunity to practice deployment and joint training procedures.
As a valued partner for U.S. Southern Command, this is the second consecutive year for New Horizons operations in Belize. For New Horizons 2014, civil engineers and their support staff will be constructing a hospital in Belmopan, three schools in Belize City and one school in Hattieville.
Since the sites are scattered across the region, it is Harrison's medical team's responsibility to ensure U.S. workers at each site are well and ready for long days working with their Belizean counterparts to construct the facilities.
It is Harrison's job to "provide guidance, medical guidance and mentoring, as well as sick call for the engineers, treating injuries incurred at the job sites either on or off duty, and also providing public health guidance on food and water hazards," she said.
Her team will be vital in relaying all information to service members in their areas of responsibility and also providing care.
With more than 19 years in the Air Force, this is not the first time Harrison has deployed to provide medical care and guidance to fellow service members as she has also deployed to Cyprus, Iraq and an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, but the rewards never cease, she said.
"The best thing about this deployment is being able to see the community's reaction whenever we are complete" with a New Horizons construction site, she said.
She also said she finds the interaction with the various services and host nation countries to be invaluable.
"I think that the coordination piece in being able to work with a different country, providing medical care to (civil engineers) and being able to meet the medical needs of the engineers, (as well as) fostering relationships with people outside of the medical community" will be greatly beneficial to my and my team's professional development, Harrison said.