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    Providing care in the clinic, on the drop zone

    Providing care in the clinic, on the drop zone

    Photo By Maj. Spencer Garrison | U.S. Army Capt. Hugh McLeod, a physician assistant assigned to 173rd Brigade Support...... read more read more

    NOWA DEBA, POLAND

    07.20.2015

    Story by Sgt. Brandon Anderson 

    7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    NOWA DĘBA, Poland - There's inherent physical risks involved with being a paratrooper in the U.S. Army, and few people are as aware of these risks as the Army Physician Assistant that provides medical care for America's sky soldiers.

    Capt. Hugh McLeod, a physician assistant for the 173rd Brigade Support Battalion, part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, not only takes care of them, he also jumps with them.

    After enlisting in the Army as an infantryman, McLeod's path from being a Soldier that receives medical treatment to one providing it, started when he attended an emergency medical technician course for his unit.

    “The unit I was in tried to get as many non-medical-specialty Soldiers EMT qualified as possible,” said McLeod, a native of Clinton Township, Mich. “After EMT basic course, I did well enough to get selected to go with a smaller group of Soldiers to get EMT Paramedic certified.”

    He said his experience in the course was what drove him into the medical field.

    “It was during the course that I fell in love with medicine,” McLeod said. “I ended up ETSing [Expiration of Term of Service] and went to college. While in college, I worked in hospitals and got my degree in biology.”

    He said he initially learned about the Army physician assistant position from a friend, and decided to pursue it.

    “After college, I came back in the Army and was commissioned as an infantry officer with the mindset of applying to the PA program,” he said.

    Before deploying as a mechanized infantry platoon leader with his unit out of Ft. Stewart, Georgia, McLeod said he put in his application for the Inter-service Physician Assistant Program located at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas.

    “As soon as I got to Kuwait, I put my packet in for the program and found out during my deployment that I got accepted into it,” he said.

    McLeod explained he was in an airborne unit in the mid 1990s, and because of his experience as a paratrooper during his enlisted time, he finds working with the Soldiers of the 173rd to be especially enjoyable.

    “I enjoy working with paratroopers, and in my opinion you have to have a tough mindset to want to be one,” said McLeod. “I like working with people that like being in the Army, like doing their job and like doing this type of thing.”

    When he's not jumping with the Soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, McLeod notes his day-to-day activities are centered around providing medical care for Soldiers assigned to his unit.

    “I mainly work at the clinic during garrison time [time spent at home station] seeing Soldiers,” said McLeod. “I try to do training with our medics when there's time, but the clinic is my main focus.”

    Some of training he's done with his medics has been with medical personnel of the Polish 16th Airborne Battalion during their time in Nowa Deba, Poland. He and his medics got to share their procedures and equipment with the Polish soldiers, building bridges of cooperation and unity as medical professionals.

    But when he's on an airborne mission, such as here in Poland with U.S. and Polish paratroopers, his role changes from providing routine medical care, to being a part of the planning process of the jump, as well as participating in the jumps himself.

    In fact, McLeod jumped with U.S. Soldiers of the 173rd and Polish soldiers of the 6th Airborne Brigade July 18. The combined 60 U.S. and Polish paratroopers jumped together from UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, an ongoing multinational partnership focused on joint training and security cooperation between NATO allies.

    “There's a lot of work that goes into performing the jump,” said McLeod. “I normally work with the drop zone safety officer. Time permitting, we do a medical route reconnaissance, so that in case of a serious injury the medical evacuation team knows how to get to the hospital.”

    After ensuring as many medical contingencies as possible have been planned for, McLeod is often one of the last jumpers during an operation.

    “Depending on the type of airborne operation I'm usually one of the first or last out of the aircraft, just in case I'm needed to provide care for an injured Soldier,” said McLeod.

    For this airborne physician, whether he's in a clinic treating daily injuries and illnesses, or soaring through the sky and helping a hurt paratrooper, it's all about combining his love of the army and his love of medicine.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 07.20.2015
    Date Posted: 07.21.2015 03:10
    Story ID: 170526
    Location: NOWA DEBA, PL

    Web Views: 569
    Downloads: 2

    PUBLIC DOMAIN