LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Capt. Jason Merchant, the company commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, Task Force Ironman from Dysart, Iowa, hands out cards Dec. (click for more)
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Lauren Hyman of Texarkana, Texas, armored vehicle driver for the 64th Military Police Company based at Combat Oupost Fortress, says hello to an (click for more)
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Taylor Gingrich, an infantry officer from Cedar Falls, Iowa, with Task Force Ironman, draws a smile from an Afghan boy as Gingrich (click for more)
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Brian Stowe, a human resources specialist from Elkmont, Ala., with Task Force Knighthawk, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, sings a ballad he wrote and (click for more)
PAKTYA, Afghanistan – Servicemembers defend the wall after an improvised explosive device detonates on Forward Operating Base Lightning Dec. 5. (click for more)
KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan and French military chiefs conduct a briefing before deployment during a security operation. Afghan National Security Forces and French Task Force Richelieu conducted Operation Montevideo (click for more)
PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Phil Compton, Doty, Wash., Panjshir PRT engineer, and PRT local Afghan engineer Abid Wardak check the structural integrity of the retaining (click for more)
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An Afghan family looks at their new family member after she was delivered by the Polish Army medical team at Forward Operating Base Warrior Jan. 3. (click for more)
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, maneuver through Sabari District during patrols to disrupt insurgent activity in the (click for more)
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. Shawn Fouste, Decatur, Ill., noncommissioned officer in charge of the Freedom Restoration Center with the 455th Expeditionary Wing, Task Force Med, plays with (click for more)
Conforming to the team dynamic of a completely different branch of service, however, is even more difficult.
The roughly two dozen soldiers of the 934th Forward Surgical Team, a U.S. Army Reserve unit from Salt Lake City, were quite familiar with each other long before arriving at Forward Operating Base Sharana earlier this year.
They had trained, lived and worked together for several months, even performing a two-week rotation in a trauma center in Miami to learn trauma-specific protocols and enhance their already vast knowledge.
The FST personnel, which in previous rotations had been split into two units at two different FOBs, was combined into one large unit to address the growing medical needs on the base.
But sometimes, one team, no matter how well they work together, is not enough.
As part of a trial period, the FST was soon augmented by several Air Force medical personnel, including nurses and medical technicians as well as several Army critical care nurses, who assist in transporting patients to a higher level of care.
The Air Force medical personnel and Army CCNs are among the first in the country to be integrated with an FST, to the great relief of FST members.
It was the first time additional personnel had been added to an FST.
“Our mission here is unique, to say the least, and upon arrival, we knew we’d be busy with the amount of personnel we had,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Austin Adamson, the 934th FST executive officer from Preston, Idaho. "Thankfully, we have been able to bring in some more people to work with us and help us provide even greater patient care.”
The welcoming nature of their FST teammates was felt immediately by the newcomers.
“I don’t think any of us really knew what to expect coming in, not having a lot of dealings with the Army or trying to integrate with them before,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Elizabeth Norris, a native of New Madrid, Mo., the officer in charge of the advanced trauma life support section of the FST. “But these guys were great, they welcomed us with open arms, and we haven’t had any issues at all with not feeling like a team.”
“Sometimes, it’s easy to forget we aren’t originally from this unit,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joanne Castillo, a native of Sunnyvale, Calif., who serves as a medical technician in the Advanced Trauma Life Support section of the FST. “This unit is a good group of people who welcomed us right in, and everyone gets along great, no matter where we come from.”
“This has been such a great opportunity,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kristina Rosiles, a native of Garland, Texas, who is also a medical technician in the Advanced Trauma Life Support section of the FST. “At my home base, I work in a family practice clinic where I do a lot of checking in of patients, vital signs and administrative work. Here, however, it’s significantly different. It’s a huge mountain of a job here, and not just because the base is located at over 7,000 feet in elevation.”
Rosiles, deployed from Sheppard AFB, Texas, is not alone in believing this deployment is considerably different than her duties at home station.
“I’ve worked in emergency medicine before, but this is on a whole new level,” said Castillo, who is deployed from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.“Of course, we get a report about the incoming patient, but you just never know what you’re going to encounter once they arrive. There are a lot of dealings with the unknown here.”
Like any good team, individuals in the unit learn from their teammates.
“Everyone knows how to do the same thing in different ways,” said Rosiles.“It could be one simple technique, but five different people may do it five different ways to get the same result. We are constantly learning from each other. You have to take it all in, and compare it to what you already know and decide for yourself how to do things. It’s a great environment for learning.”
The Air Force personnel definitely appreciate the uniqueness of their deployment.
“Some of the stuff I get to do here, I’d never get the chance to do on a typical Air Force deployment, working in a military hospital somewhere,” said Rosiles. “At an Air Force hospital, I couldn’t even dream of working in an FST like I am here. I am getting some unique experiences here that I will get to use throughout my Air Force career.”
“This deployment combines a lot of the aspects I liked from my last two deployments,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Virginia Dunn, of Indianapolis, the Intensive Care Unit officer in charge deployed from Peterson AFB, Colo. “I spent a deployment in the ICU at Bagram Air Base’s hospital and another deployment assisting with medical evacuations out of Kuwait, but working in a trauma center like this is a great mix of my past two deployment experiences.”
“Historically, Air Force medical teams haven’t been on FSTs,” said Norris, who is deployed from Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., where she is a pediatric nurse. “That’s usually been an Army tasking. So to get patients directly from the point of injury, as an Air Force person, it’s pretty rare and that’s what we get to do here. Usually, when a medical person from the Air Force sees a patient, they’re a little bit cleaned up, they’ve had a little surgery, and they’re stabilized, so it’s obviously a great experience for all of us to see how they got to be that way.”
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|Afghan forces, TF Bastogne continue operations in Sherzad District|
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Task Force Bastogne, continued operations in the Sherzad District Jan. 8 clearing the village of Toto of insurgent fighters to reinforce a foundation of security in the area.
|TF Iron eliminates insurgent IED team|
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Soldiers form Task Force Iron Rakkasan and members of the Afghan Uniformed police, using the Precision Threat Detection System blimp at Forward Operating Base Andar, identified a group of insurgents with weapons and explosives Jan. 3.
|TF Iron Rakkasan uses PTDS to prevent highway robbery|
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Recently, Soldiers from Task Force Iron Rakkasan watched a member of the Afghan Uniformed Police conduct an illegal checkpoint on the route between Ghazni and Sharana. Using the camera system on the Persistent Threat Detection System, Soldiers observed a man standing in the road collecting money from vehicles. The practice is common by insurgents who fund their attacks by taking money from locals.
|Joint operation helps clear Sherzad of insurgent activity|
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and Soldiers from Task Force Bastogne began operations in the Sherzad District Dec. 23.