Their experiences, said Gen. Glen VanHerck, will help shape the size and staffing of the military’s medical response so the Pentagon can provide the right types and numbers of forces needed for another pandemic, global crisis or conflict. One of the key lessons learned was the value of small military teams over mass movements of personnel and facilities in a crisis like the one wrought by COVID-19.

A COVID-19 patient was in respiratory distress. The Army nurse knew she had to act quickly, AP reports.

It was the peak of this year’s omicron surge and an Army medical team was helping in a Michigan hospital. Regular patient beds were full. So was the intensive care. But the nurse heard of an open spot in an overflow treatment area, so she and another team member raced the gurney across the hospital to claim the space first, denting a wall in their rush.

When she saw the dent, Lt. Col. Suzanne Cobleigh, the leader of the Army team, knew the nurse had done her job. “She’s going to damage the wall on the way there because he’s going to get that bed,” Cobleigh said. “He’s going to get the treatment he needs. That was the mission.”

That nurse’s mission was to get urgent care for her patient. Now, the U.S. military mission is to use the experiences of Cobleigh’s team and other units pressed into service against the coronavirus pandemic to prepare for the next crisis threatening a large population, whatever its nature.

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