Unit Medics Learn Experientially
By Senior Airman Kevin Dean, 174FW
/ Published May 13, 2009
5/6/2009 - San Juan, Puerto Rico -- As each person walks to their assigned duty station with some trepidation and a lot of preparation a look of relief washes over them as the supervisor welcomes them to their station for the day.
The 174th Fighter Wings Medical Group flew to Puerto Rico to certify on medical skills at a trauma hospital in Puerto Rico Medical Center "Centro Medico" from May 3- 16
The Medical Groups preparation for the training in an active trauma hospital in Puerto Rico was well received as each hospital supervisor on the first day was expecting their assigned unit member and was ready to start training.
Each unit member has a unique checklist of skills that they must meet to stay current in their job. In the hospital each person rotates through sections to learn skills ranging from minor surgery to learning how to work in a hyperbolic chamber.
According the 174th Medical Service Corps (MSC) officer, Maj. Gilbert Harvey, the unit enlisted areomedical technicians must pass the National Registry of Emergency Technicians exam and maintain their certifications through meeting the national training requirements.
The trauma hospital in the Puerto Rico Medical Center "Centro Medico" is a fast paced atmosphere that offers actual training for the Air Guard members ranging from surgeons to medical technicians who must certify their skills at least every 24 months.
One of the tasks that the wings enlisted areomedical technicians must accomplish is suturing. 174th Fighter Wing Flight Surgeon, Lt. Col. Guillermo Quetell said "While suturing is beyond the scope of practice for civilian nurses it is a required skill for Air Guard members".
Areomedical Technician, Tech. Sgt. James P. Lantry said, "It's a skill that can be taught simply through experience". The unit members all took turns rotating through the minor surgery unit in the trauma hospital where they had an opportunity to learn to suture wounds.
Learning skills sets in a busy trauma center while also balancing the intracultural differences requires the areomedical technicians to gain knowledge through direct contact. The unit members have a large knowledge base so having the opportunity to work in the trauma hospital provides feedback to complete the learning cycle for their skills verifications.
Lt. Col. Janet Robens worked inside the hyperbolic chamber which is a large cylinder decompression takes place to treat wounds and burns. Robens said, "The treatment today was mostly diabetics with wound care and the chamber is similar to the flight nurse training however this chamber takes you down in depth but has similar effects".
The nurses in the trauma hospital have high level of autonomy due to the high volume of trauma cases the hospital sees each day. Tech. Sgt. Jerry Douglas an areomedical technician worked in the emergency room in the hospital on his first rotation and said of his first training day in the hospital "its controlled chaos".
The training in Puerto Rico offers both the chance for learning from experience and verification of required skills for the medical groups' members which is important because the medical group has both state and federal mission requirements that must be met.
The 174th Fighter Wings Medical Group has a multitiered mission which includes running the clinic on Hancock Field, deploying to humanitarian missions, deploying to combat environments, and conducting training to stay current in their skill sets.
The medical center has the enormous responsibility of treating trauma cases for the entire island of Puerto Rico which is a population of over 4 million citizens and the opportunity to learn new skills and re-certify on other offers an authentic learning environment for the 174th doctors, nurses and technicians.