HSC physician commands joint medical training exercise
HSC News
2009/09/09

Col. Charles Bauer, M.D., (right) rides in a Black Hawk helicopter to the different sites of Operation Lone Star, a joint military and civilian training exercise and community service project.
Col. Charles Bauer, M.D., (right) rides in a Black Hawk helicopter to the different sites of Operation Lone Star, a joint military and civilian training exercise and community service project.

Nearly 13,500 residents in nine South Texas communities received free medical and dental care July 27-Aug. 5 through Operation Lone Star, a joint military and civilian training exercise and community service project that is the largest humanitarian effort of its kind in the United States.

The project was led by Charles Bauer, M.D., a colonel in the Texas State Guard who is also a professor of surgery, emergency medicine and orthopedic surgery at the UT Health Science Center. He also is director of the Center for Public Health Preparedness & Biomedical Research here.

Collaborative effort

The annual event is a collaborative training exercise that was coordinated this year by the Texas State Guard Medical Brigade and included the Army National Guard Medical Command, the Air National Guard’s 136th Airlift Wing, as well as state health and human services agencies, county health departments, local service groups and civilian volunteers.

Mobilizing health care

“We conduct this training every year to help key personnel in our state prepare for natural disasters and other events that would involve a large-scale mobilization of health care providers,” Dr. Bauer said.“It is also a huge humanitarian event. There are people who come for free health services who don’t go to the doctor or dentist any other time of the year.”

Disaster exercise

The headquarters the first week was in Weslaco in the Rio Grande Valley. The second week, Operation Lone Star moved to Laredo, where the leadership conducted a fast-action response team exercise in which equipment and personnel were moved quickly to Zapata to simulate response to a disaster.

“As a School of Medicine physician and longtime participant in medical preparedness in Bexar County, I was pleased to lead Operation Lone State,” Dr. Bauer said.“This operation was successful due to the preparation, dedication and professionalism of everyone involved.”

Draws interest of state leaders

Among the state leaders who visited the exercises were Sen. Judith Zaffirini, Sen. Eddie Lucio and David Lakey, M.D., commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“Besides the training and services we provided, we will use information from this exercise in research we are conducting on disaster response through our Center for Public Health Preparedness & Biomedical Research,” Dr. Bauer.

This is the 11th Operation Lone Star and the sixth year Dr. Bauer has been involved. Last year he was deputy commander.