News: Falcon Brigade medical staff provide general healthcare, but prepare for the worst
Story by Sgt. Kissta DiGregorio
CAMP RAMADI, Iraq - With no combat-related U.S. casualties to treat since the 2/82 deployed to Iraq’s Anbar province four months ago, the medical professionals at Camp Ramadi’s Level 2 Aid Station ensure soldiers stay healthy and combat ready in myriad ways; by treating acute and chronic health problems, offering classes that promote injury prevention and cross-training in multiple fields.
The medical staff with C Company, 407th Brigade Support Battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, operate sick call seven days a week to treat soldiers suffering from everything from the common cold to heat rashes, and specialists are on staff to treat more intricate illnesses and injuries. But they are always prepared for real-life trauma situations.
Sgt. Ryan Morgan, a C Company, 407th laboratory technician from Virginia Beach, Va., runs blood tests for general physicals and to confirm diagnoses. He also keeps his freezer stocked with O-negative red blood cells and plasma, which can quickly return oxygen to the cells and promote clotting for a trauma patient with extreme blood loss.
The physical therapy department stays busy by treating both chronic and new musculoskeletal injuries. Soldiers who were receiving regular physical therapy back home are able to continue their treatment while deployed. Most new cases are sports-related injuries, said Sgt. Matthew Wolfe, a physical therapy technician and native of Yuba City, Calif., attached to C Company, 407th. Soldiers are hurting themselves playing sports and working out in the gym in their spare time, he said. The physical therapy team also sees cases of lower back pain caused by carrying heavy gear and combat equipment on missions.
Depending on the type and severity of the injury, the soldier will be treated with stretching and strengthening exercises. “We want them to improve so they don’t have to come back,” Wolfe said.
To ensure soldiers can receive the treatment they need regardless of which medical provider is on duty, the aid station staff cross-trains its soldiers to learn multiple services. Spc. Cory Smith, a C Company, 407th pharmacy technician and native of Rogersville, Mo., is learning the ropes as a dental assistant. Also, Spc. Ashley Cimms, a C Company, 407th medic from Ridgefield, N.J., has learned the basic steps to take and read X-rays thanks to X-ray technician, Sgt. Kyle Besley.
This training increases the amount of personnel able to conduct certain medical procedures, and also helps soldiers brush up on their own specialties, Besley said. “Cross-training helps me remember my own training.”
The dedicated medical staff at the Level 2 also sacrifice their down time to increase the health and wellbeing of 2/82 Paratroopers. In addition to offering educational classes about smoking cessation, supplement usage, anger management and hygiene, they also get hands-on during running, yoga, kempo karate, and plyometrics classes.
Upon arriving to Camp Ramadi, Pfc. Andrew Sanchez, a C Company, 407th medic and native of Fort Worth, Texas, began practicing yoga for his own benefit. After becoming familiar with the routine, the self-proclaimed “yoga master” decided to offer the class to anyone interested in participating. “I figured if I was benefiting from it, others would benefit also,” Sanchez said. And because yoga promotes flexibility, it can also prevent injury, he added. “If you’re more flexible and agile, you’re less likely to be injured while wearing full kit on a mission.”
Although the aid station staff has yet to treat a trauma patient, it is not because they are unprepared to do so. The medical professionals conduct mass casualty training regularly to keep their skills sharp in the event of a disaster.
The team has seen at least five different groups of soldiers whose armored vehicles were hit by roadside bombs, said Capt. Kathryn Berryman, a gynecologist attached to C Company, 407th. When the announcement was made that wounded soldiers were coming to the aid station, the team quickly jumped into action to prepare for what was sure to be a gruesome scene by emplacing stretchers, donning protective equipment and manning their stations.
But when the crew walked into the aid station with no obvious injuries, the staff let out a sigh of relief, Berryman said, and began screening for traumatic brain injuries.
“It’s not very exciting, which is good,” she said of an average day at the Level 2. And although members of the staff keep their fingers crossed that they do not receive any traumatically injured soldiers, Berryman said she is confident that they are ready if they do.
This work, Falcon Brigade medical staff provide general healthcare, but prepare for the worst, by SSG Kissta DiGregorio, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.