A Hilton Head Island company soon will see its product on the ABC drama "Combat Hospital."
Cera Products, which moved from Maryland to Hilton Head Island last year, makes patented "oral rehydration" drinks that are used by the military in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
President and CEO Charlene Riikonen said the company received a call in May from the producers of the show, which is set in a fictional military hospital in southern Afghanistan and modeled after a real NATO facility.
The producers initially sought to buy Cera's products for use on the show, but the company sent them for free, Riikonen said.
She said "Combat Hospital" representatives have told her the products will appear on the show at 10 p.m. Tuesday and at other times thereafter.
Michael Maschio, one of the show's producers, said Cera's drinks will appear most prominently in a storyline about a mass food poisoning that dehydrates many people at the hospital.
"You'll see it sitting on the table," he said. "You'll see it in the background on counters."
Cera's products will receive more "casual references" in other episodes, he said.
The company did not have to pay for the placement, he said, because producers wanted to use authentic products.
Riikonen said Cera's rice-based products are more effective than conventional sugar-based sports drinks at preventing and correcting dehydration after people experience extensive fluid loss.
The products can be bought in powder or liquid form and used for sports and medical purposes.
In the military, they are used in medical kits, field hospitals and training programs, she said.
They also are available for sale at several local shops and have been used in relief efforts after disasters on multiple continents.
George Gurrola, a triathlete and retired Army Ranger who recently became Cera's director of operations, said soldiers like Cera's drinks because they provide a longer-lasting energy than sugary alternatives.
He said he wished he had taken the products with him while leading fellow soldiers through Iraq and Croatia.
"It would give me a peace of mind knowing they would be able to finish whatever mission we had to do," Gurrola said.
Cera, which started in 1993, has annual revenues of about $5 million and employs about a dozen people at its new headquarters in a commercial center off Mathews Drive.
The walls of its offices are adorned with photos of the bicyclists and triathletes who use its products and plaques from the military units it supports.
Riikonen said she decided to move the company to Hilton Head last year after being stuck on the island as a winter storm dumped several feet of snow in Maryland.
She said she is pleased with the move so far.
"I wish we'd done it before," she said.
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Related linksCera Products' website