News: Doctors from above; Airborne surgical team heading to Afghanistan
Story by Staff Sgt. Matthew Winstead
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Friends and family of the 8th Forward Surgical Team gathered for the unit’s deployment ceremony Nov. 18 at the Alaska National Guard Center on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
The unit leaves later this month for a year-long deployment to Afghanistan.
“I am confident that we as a unit can overcome anything that the insurgents have,” Maj. Nathan Marsh, 8th FST commander said in remarks during the ceremony. “We as medical personnel will also help to bring about a lasting peace by our actions. We will strive to provide world-class care to all people that come to us, ally and enemy alike.”
The team’s mission will place them in an area where they might not only treat U.S. and its allied forces, but enemy wounded as well, Marsh noted.
The unit recently conducted a two weeks of real-world training Army Trauma Training Center, located at the University of Miami’s Ryder Trauma Center.
There they trained on and treated a vast array of medical and surgical procedures and took over full operations of the hospital’s trauma center for 48 hours, treating and evaluating everyone who came through the doors.
“The training in Miami was some of the best I have ever had in my life,” Spc. Theodore Batdorf, licensed vocational nurse with the 8th FST said. “Everything was practical and relevant to what we were planning to see downrange. Miami is a major city, so we saw a huge range of trauma injuries that we could see in combat. Things like gunshots and massive injuries from vehicle accidents. [With] that, combined with the team-building exercises, I personally feel ready to take this on once we get where we are going.”
In addition to pre-deployment training, members of the 8th FST have excelled in other areas recently.
Some of the unit members earned their Expert Field Medical Badges this year: a stressful and daunting task even when not preparing for a deployment, and one of its specialists was a recent honor graduate of the Warrior Leader Course at USARAK’s Non-Commissioned Officers Academy.
“We are extremely proud of the professionalism and dedication of all of our paratroopers,” Capt. John Luniesti, 8th FST executive officer said. “The performance of the unit has been outstanding in all regards.”
As an airborne unit, the 8th FST is capable of being launched practically anywhere in a very short period of time.
It’s also capable of packing up and moving once established on the ground in less time than a standard medical unit