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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- The 56th presidential inauguration, held January 20, 2009, set a record attendance for any event held in Washington D.C., and was one of the most-observed events ever by the global audience. With well over 1 million attendees just four years ago, preparations for the 57th presidential inauguration have taken a considerable effort from a wide variety of sources, both military and civilian. The Air Force's 79th Medical Wing has been an important part of that process, with both a medical and ceremonial mission.
During inaugural preparations, the 79th MDW works with its Army and Navy partners to be fully engaged with Joint Task Force National Capital Region-Medical. Its mission is to deliver world-class health care throughout the National Capital Region. As such, it's only fitting that the 79th MDW be a big part of the medical support needed at the 57th presidential inauguration.
"My hope is that we'll have a nice quiet day and that everything goes smoothly," said Col. Christopher Scharenbrock, an emergency medicine physician with the wing, and a team lead for one of the medical support teams that will be placed along the parade route. "We hope that we don't have to, but if we do we are prepared to give the best care possible."
The wing will have several teams along the parade route ready to provide care for anyone who may suffer injury during the parade, or inauguration ceremony. In addition, the wing will have several Airmen participating in the ceremonial cordon, which will maintain a line between the crowd and parade, and render a salute as President Barrack Obama drives by. The organization of these Airmen fell to Maj. Jennifer Lavergne, the chief of medical readiness for the 79th MDW.
"Planning this event takes a lot of patience and a positive attitude," Lavergne said. "The closer to the event, the higher the stress. You have to be a wingman and keep everything in perspective."
Lavergne, despite what she says are a "million changes" that have occurred throughout the organization process, has not lost sight of the importance of her role in this historic event.
"It's amazing to have been selected to have this sort of responsibility in bringing people together, organizing, training, and making sure they are equipped to carry out their mission ... for someone to have that confidence and ask you to do this, that's another reason why its special, to be entrusted with that responsibility."
Beyond organization, Sharenbrock says it is also important for the teams to train. He said training has been an ongoing process, and to be a part of the inauguration day team, each person is required to have advanced trauma life support training. Sharenbrock will be his team's instructor.
"The training is similar to the training that I provide in deployed environments," said Sharenbrock, who has provided training in several deployed locations. "I'm very confident we will be ready for the mission."
Those who have been selected to participate in the inauguration are working hard to ensure they represent the Air Force in a way that is consistent with the values and traditions that have been in place since the Air Force's inception. This includes members of the cordon team, who are preparing to show the military precision that is taught throughout any military career.
"This is the pinnacle of all those parade practices we've done since basic training, and drill and retreat at the (NCO) academy," said Senior Master Sgt. Mary Martin, the flight chief for laboratory and pathology services, and member of the cordon team. "Now here it is in live full effect; we are actually a part of the cordon team for the president of the United States, our commander and chief; how exciting is that?"
The cordon team has been through numerous uniform inspections and rehearsals to ensure they are ready and looking sharp come inauguration day. Members of the team know their family and friends will be watching, the experience of which, is truly an honor, cordon team members said.
"I've never been a part of something so prestigious -- so historical," said Airman 1st Class Joseph Carter, a member of the cordon team, and public a health technician with the79th MDW. "To be a part of something this big is an honor -- it's really a blessing,"
Carter is excited that his little brother will be watching the inauguration from his hometown in Florida, knowing that he is a part of the ceremony.
"I feel like he looks up to me a lot, and I'm proud to be a part of this to give him inspiration for his journey through life," Carter said.
Both the medical and cordon teams are excited and somewhat nervous to participate in the ceremony.
"I'm nervous but it's a good nervous," said Tech. Sgt. Brandi Gallaher, a medical laboratory technician with the 79th MDW, and member of the cordon team.. "It's like when you watch a football game, and they play the national anthem. and the hair stands up on your arm. "
The members of the 79th MDW are excited and honored to be a part of this prestigious and historic ceremony. They have been training hard, and have been well prepared for the task at hand. They are confident they will represent the Air Force well.
"This is an event that involves our commander and chief and to be part of that history is something that cannot be explained in words," Lavergne said. "Amazing does not do it justice."