December 17th, 2006 12:34 EST
Nightime PAD crew leads casualties through Hero's Highway
LSA ANACONDA, Iraq - The casualty liaison team at the Air Force Theater Hospital can`t predict what circumstances a shift may bring. Even though the day shift carries the same job description as the night shift, darkness adds suspense to an already highpace job.
It is hard to predict the number of casualties on any given day, said Capt. Francisco Pena, commander of B. Detachment, 22nd Personnel Services Battalion, from New York, N.Y.
Good weather permits more flights to come to the hospital, he said. In cases when there is limited visibility, it is harder for the helicopters to land.
Any shift, day or night, may have an influx of patients, no matter when the casualty occurred, he said.
The CLT works within the Patient Administrative Department, said Sgt. Ivan D. Haynes, a night shift casualty liaison team NCO for the 22nd PSB. The PAD is responsible for making rounds and checking on the patients. They also act as a liaison for all military and civilian patients in theater.
Haynes said the types of aircraft that transport casualties to the AFTH, are UH-60 Blackhawks and Chinook UH-46 Sea Knights. Aircraft travel in pairs, either with another MEDEVAC aircraft or an attack helicopter.
Once a casualty arrives at the hospital, the PAD takes them into the emergency room on Hero`s Highway, Pena said. Simultaneously, information is gathered from the patient as the doctors are treating their injuries.
Everybody is considered a hero, " said Air Force Senior Airman Amber N. Brooks, of the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group, based out of Lackland Air Base in San Antonio, Texas.
If they are still conscious, and you roll them under the Hero`s Highway sign, that just gives them the motivation to get better, " Brooks said. Each servicemember that comes in is a hero to us. "
Essentially, we take the information and put it into a Defense Casualty Information Processing System folder report, which is sent up to the Multi National Corps " Iraq, the joint operations casualty cell, CJ1, in Baghdad, " Pena said.
The CJ1 is the joint military section within the MNC-I Baghdad, including Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, and Navy, " Haynes said.
He said the information sent to Baghdad initiates the casualty notification process to the patient`s next of kin.
We have a three-hour time limit once the casualty comes here, " Haynes said. If the person is killed in action, or if someone dies here (at the hospital), we then have a two-hour time limit to send the report up (to MNC-I). There is a 61-line medical form that must be filled out. If there is something not pertinent, then that information is skipped. "
The DCIPS is sent to Baghdad electronically to people on the distribution list, Haynes said.
The process for a casualty to arrive at the hospital begins when the incoming medevac aircraft notifies the ER of their approximate arrival time, Haynes said. Then, the ER calls the PAD and lets them know to get ready for the incoming aircraft. The hospital here is a level-three, urgent surgical facility, he said. There are three operating rooms, which focus mainly on head and neck injuries.
More serious patients are sent to Germany to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, which is a level four hospital, " Haynes said.
The difference in the two levels is that level three hospitals specialize only in certain areas, whereas level four hospitals do everything, he said.
If more treatment is needed, then the patient is sent back to the United States, " Haynes said. They try to send the patients as close to home as possible; however, it depends on what the patient needs as to which hospital they are sent to. "
This is what we are here for, to do our job, " he said. That is what we have been training for during this entire time. "
It`s a very important mission, " Haynes said. It makes you feel really important after you see patients come in that are all beat up. Then you see them leave here and are in better shape. They come in and thank you for what you do. "
One experience that Haynes said that he had was with a Soldier who received a blast to the face by an improvised explosive device. He said that the Soldier bent down to do something when the IED went off. The doctors predicted the Soldier to lose both of his eyes.
That kind of hits home " because he has the rest of his life to live, " Haynes said,
commenting that the Soldier was young and had a wife and children waiting for him at home.
The AFTH has intensive care unit bays in which the patients are closely monitored, Pena said. Patients are in the ICU for approximately six to eight hours, but no more than 24 hours before being sent to another hospital for further treatment.
There is also an intensive care ward for patients who are stabilized, without a need for constant monitoring. He said that those patients don`t have life-threatening injuries. Due to the amount of incoming patients, there are also two local national bays for each servicemember`s bay, he said.
The 332nd EMDG transports patients to and from the Baghdad area, Haynes said. For example, if a casualty incident were to happen around Baghdad, the patient will be sent to a nearby hospital to get stabilized.
They will then medevac them here for that next step of treatment, allow them to stabilize, and then send them to Germany for further treatment, " Haynes said. It`s a great experience and Soldiers are learning a lot here, " Pena said.
Many people go through life saying they wish they can help Soldiers out more; maybe they (should) change their military occupation skill to medical, " he said. Blackhawk crew members prepare for their next flight, in which they will transport civilian patients to another hospital.
Crew members on board a medical evacuation Blackhawk dismount the helicopter as they help transport two casualty patients to the AFTH to receive further treatment.
Sgt. Ivan D. Haynes, a night shift casualty liaison team NCO for B. Detachment, 22nd Personnel Services Battalion stands behind a T-Wall as a Blackhawk approaches the landing pad to drop off Soldiers to the Air Force Theater Hospital.
Spc. Valeri L. Kinzer, a casualty liaison technician for B. Detachment, 22nd Personnel Services Battalion initiates the Defense Casualty Information Processing System report for Sgt. 1st Class Roderick R. Williamson, an Army cook with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 136th Infantry, based out of Camp Hit. His hometown is Orlando, Fla.
Nightime PAD crew leads casualties through "Hero`s Highway`
Multi-National Corps " Iraq PAO
By Sgt. KaRonda Fleming