The Medical Deployments of Team 5

July 21, 2012

By Will Grant

The motto of Team 5: In order to be involved, you first need to show up.

When you’re talking about eastern Guatemala, there’s nothing easy about showing up. And that’s the essence of what Team 5 does. It finds the empty spots on the map, regions of medical deficiency, and it brings modern medicine and training to those in need.

“Our main objective,” says Team 5 co-founder Eric Linder, “is to locate a very remote location that no one will be willing to travel to because of its remote location, terrain or security and educate local healthcare workers, conduct OJT, set up a temporary clinic and leave supplies so that each village can sustain itself.”

Team 5 is without political, governmental, or religious motivation. It is solely about providing care. And though the organization is less than a year old, it’s seen astronomical growth. Today, Linder and Team 5 have about $50 million worth of medical, educational and aid supplies at their disposal due to their new partnership with Another Joy Foundation and has already begun to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars in medications and supplies to his partnering medical foundations.

“When I started this in November [2011],” Linder said of Team 5, “I thought it was going to be only me, and I thought it would last a year.”

That has turned out not to be the case. Recent donations have been in the form of hundreds of pallets of medical equipment, medical supplies, and other outreach items like books for children. Linder is a busy man, and in another year or so, Team 5 may be one of the country’s biggest medical outreach organizations delivering care to remote regions around the world.

Linder’s Team 5 provides care to places that most need it. But more than just bringing equipment and supplies, Team 5 focuses on training, endowing the people with the ability to improve the level of healthcare, if only on a local level.

And when you look at the work and nature of Team 5, the military underpinnings are clear. Meaning, the fact that Linder has a military background is clear, that he seeks military-trained medics & doctors, that he organizes his missions with military diligence, and that the missions are called deployments.

Linder was as an EMT in high school and then went on to become crew chief for an aerospace crash-fire rescue unit. He was later an EST for Security Police during Operation Desert Storm. From there he became a tactical medic for the Las Vegas Police Department, and eventually joined the Israeli Defense Forces Airborne Combat Rescue Unit (pararescue). He’s now a volunteer with the Israeli Magen David Adom (Red Cross) on their mobile intensive care unit.

Linder’s team is hand picked from dozens of applicants who are screened for physical agility, survival skills and to ensure they can work with the rest of the team. Working well with the team is important, as they often find themselves in less-than-ideal situations.

“We live in cramped quarters,” says Linder. “We don’t eat right, we don’t sleep right; we’re wet and tired, and it’s humid as hell. They have to be a good fit.”

In June this year, Team 5 deployed to eastern Guatemala. Based out of Ak’Tenamit, the team treated five villages in the area. Having visited the same area earlier this year, the latest deployment was a maintenance and resupply trip.

A single visit to places like Ak’Tenamit hardly suffices in bringing Western medicine to the Third World. This year in June, Team 5 witnessed a childbirth, the first such event for the team. Team 5-trained Guatemalan practitioners delivered the baby while Linder and his team oversaw the delivery and patient care to assist and ensure they were following the procedures set in place from the class in February.

“It was her fourth baby,” Linder said, “so she just popped it out like a Tic Tac. No problem at all.”

On this follow-up deployment to Guatemala, the team added to the training they had given months before with suturing and stapling training. And like all missions to the jungle, adversity presented itself around every bend in the river, with every new rain storm, and with every new patient.

“We got caught in this flash flood,” Linder said. “Pitch black outside, raining like hell. We had to use a headlamp as a spotlight so we didn’t run into another boat or get hit. We even had this manatee swimming alongside our boat.”

Linder makes several such trips a year–to Africa, to Belize, to places where he can lend a medical hand to those who need it. And part of his greatest asset is the network he’s set up around himself. That network includes the latest donations and a partnership with Another Joy Foundation based in Las Vegas. Also part of his network are other outreach organizations, like The Tejas Mission in Texas and Medical Missions Foundation in Kansas, both of which Linder is an active member of and borth of which welcome his donations to support their efforts.

Team 5 ships out for another deployment this October. With the organization’s growth, Linder is always looking for 18-Delta medics, pararescue jumpers and remote doctors. If you think you have the qualifications and what it takes to work in places like Eastern Guatemala, you can contact Team 5 Foundation at

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