Guardians of the Week – Coast Guard H1N1 Flu Vaccination Strike Teams

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This week, we are dedicating the Guardian of the Week to three teams of Coast Guard men and women who travelled to some of the most remote duty stations in the United States to deliver the H1N1 flu vaccine during the holiday season.

At the request of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, the Coast Guard Office of Health Services deployed Guardians to ensure DHS personnel were adequately protected ahead of peak flu season this January and February. While the vaccinations weren’t mandatory, the teams provided personnel an onsite opportunity to receive the inoculation and preserve mission readiness.

Consisting of a Medical Officer and two Health Services Technicians (HS), collectively the teams drove in excess of 4,000 miles to inoculate Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration, Food and Drug Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection personnel.

Coast Guard Health, Safety and Work-Life (HSWL) Field Office Cape May

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – HS2 Lucas Cavalier and HSCM Ron Hill prepare to administer H1N1 flu vaccinations to DHS officers during a trip through Montana, Idaho and Washington to reach remotely stationed DHS personnel. (US Coast Guard photo by Lt. j.g. Jason James)
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – HS2 Lucas Cavalier and HSCM Ron Hill prepare to administer H1N1 flu vaccinations to DHS personnel. (US Coast Guard photo by Lt. j.g. Jason James)

The HSWL Field Office Cape May deployed a team on two separate deployments inoculating a total of 215 people.

Between December 14-23, LTJG Jason James (Physician Assistant), HSCM Ron Hill and HS2 Lucas Cavalier visited 15 remote duty locations across Washington, Idaho and Montana vaccinating 85 people.

Between January 3-7, CDR Kjersti Marius (Physician), HSC Robert Spicer and HS2 Palomita Castillo visited nine remote duty locations across Michigan and Ohio vaccinating 130 people.

“Those vaccinated were impressed by the team’s professionalism and grateful for their willingness to go the “extra-mile” for their DHS Shipmates,” said LT Todd Emerson, Cape May Clinic Administrator.

Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod Clinic

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – HS3 Jesse Suitter prepares to administer an H1N1 flu vaccination to a TSA officer at the Presque Isle Airport Dec. 16, 2009. (US Coast Guard photo by Lt. Jonathan Stehn)
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – HS3 Jesse Suitter prepares to administer an H1N1 flu vaccination to a TSA officer at the Presque Isle Airport Dec. 16, 2009. (US Coast Guard photo by Lt. Jonathan Stehn)

From December 14-17, the Air Station Cape Cod team deployed to the furthest reaches of Maine to administer the vaccination. LT Jonathan Stehn (Physician Assistant), HS3 Darcy McGrail and HS3 Jesse Suitter traveled from Cape Cod to Fort Kent, Maine, to begin their mission. The team inoculated 213 people in 16 remote locations driving approximately 1,200 miles along the Maine/Canada border and down the coastline.

“We really got a great reception in Maine, and even though the State was starting to receive large quantities of vaccine on the day we arrived, the DHS folks seemed really pleased and grateful that we were making the effort to get out there and take care of them,” said LT Jonathan Stehn, Cape Cod Team Leader.

A Multi-Agency Mission
The success of these missions is largely due to the outstanding inter-agency cooperation and coordination. The Coast Guard teams relied heavily on the logistics support and local area familiarization of the DHS staff in these remote locations.

“Assistance from the various agencies on the ground was instrumental,” said LT Jonathan Stehn.

Do you know someone in the Coast Guard that has done something great for the service, the missions or the public? Please submit your nominations for Guardian of the Week using the submit button at the top of the page.

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