News: ‘We save lives’
Story by Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi
AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar -- It is getting hot outside in the desert, and it will only get hotter. During an intense physical training session outside, an airman who has not hydrated properly can suffer injuries related to heat exhaustion. What does one do if a wingman suffers a serious injury due to dehydration?
According to the medical technicians of the 379th Expeditionary Medical Group primary care from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, the first step is to perform self-aid buddy care and have another person dial 911 immediately.
The ambulance team made up of two first response Airmen has seven minutes to arrive on scene. Their mission is to provide the base with basic life support services 24/7/365.
"One of the hardest parts of our job is getting to a patient who is physically located far away," said Tech. Sgt. Sonja Roberts, NCO in charge of primary care, emergency services and immunizations, who is deployed from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. and a Chicago, Ill. native. "This is a large base and we support a large number of service members. Providing medical support to service members is definitely a humbling experience."
Although no day is the same, according to Roberts, the medical support team receives an average of five 911 calls a day.
"It doesn't matter what we are doing, when that phone rings, we drop everything and head to the patient as fast and as safely as possible," Roberts said. "Lately we have been receiving a lot of calls regarding cardiac arrest, heat exhaustion and fainting, but whatever the call may be, we take all emergencies seriously and we conduct our business with the utmost professionalism."
Besides manning the ambulance, the medical technicians provide the base with outpatient care and immunization support. Outpatient care includes sick call and out-processing/in-processing medical support.
"We see just about everyone on base and we see on average 60 patients a day, which is a large number, for seven Airmen a shift, to support," Roberts said.
Senior Airman Jared Smith, a 379th EMDG medical technician who is deployed from JB Langley-Eustis and a native of Fuquay-Varina, N.C., said, "I love being able to take care of somebody who needs help. This job is the most rewarding and most humbling job I can think of. It makes me feel like we are making a difference in people's lives and we are giving them a helping hand. We save lives."
The medical technicians must practice their basic life support to stay current with their training and to ensure their skills are proficient, Roberts said. They practice twice a week and they hold exercises with the fire department, who they work with during every emergency call made.
The chief of medical staff, Maj. Andrea Hickman, a Des Moines, Iowa, native who is deployed from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, is proud of the excellent work being put in by all the medical technicians who support a large base populace, she said.
"The medical technicians not only take care of airmen, they also take care of soldiers, sailors Marines and coalition partners," Hickman said. "It is a real testament of how well the Airmen here take care of their patients and how dedicated they are to helping others."