LAYTON — It isn't every day you see a military medic working in a civilian hospital, but a handful of Air Force reservists are now using a Utah hospital for training.
This being their first time working in a civilian hospital, five airmen from Massachusetts' Westover Air Force Base's 439th Aeromedical Staging Squadron are getting the hands-on experience they need to be prepared for deployment.
They won't be dealing with battle casualties during their two-week visit to Davis Hospital and Medical Center, but the five airmen expect to be busy during the upcoming holiday weekend.
"It's not that different from a military hospital, but they have been very welcoming to us," said Airman 1st Class Rozlyn Edwards. The 26-year-old plans to attend nursing school but said she really wants to make a difference to soldiers fighting overseas.
Davis Hospital is only the second civilian hospital in the country to open its doors to military training, a need that has arisen as many training opportunities at military hospitals are overbooked. The training partnership began at Southwest General Hospital, a sister IASIS Healthcare facility in San Antonio, last year. The success of the program there led to its expansion at Davis Hospital.
"Training for our military medical personnel is a fundamental priority, and Davis Hospital is helping us keep our personnel on top in terms of the latest medical training," said Col. Robert Swain, a 439th airlift wing commander. "With Hill Air Force Base next door, Davis Hospital has a superb understanding of our needs and has been a great partner."
Swain said the focus of their training is keeping the reservists up to date on hospital and emergency procedures so they will be ready for deployment, whenever they are needed.
"We are hoping to be deployed soon," said 1st Lt. Michelle Camano. She said she volunteered to join the squad "so I could help soldiers who are wounded fighting for the freedoms that I enjoy."
The reservists visiting Utah, Camano said, have had the opportunity of shadowing doctors and nurses, as well as helping firsthand in emergencies and other routine but necessary procedures, such as blood draws, electrocardiograms, starting IVs and learning the admitting processes.
They are spending time in the emergency room, intensive care unit, wound care, surgery and phlebotomy departments, along with the cardiac catheterization laboratory.
The 170-member squadron is capable of staffing a 250-bed medical and surgical unit, much like a M.A.S.H. hospital, at a moment's notice.
Two weeks out of every year, the medics are required to work in a hospital setting to "refresh and recertify" their skills, said Senior Airman Patrick Shinoda. While there, each must perform 80 different tasks involving direct patient care.
Other than that, they spend a weekend each month in a classroom setting, using computers to help them brush up on medical technique. However, each of them is already a certified health care professional, some having finished school.
Shinoda said he's always wanted to be a part of the military, but his parents required school first. He said the hands-on training is critical to his job.
"It provides people who don't normally work in a medical environment an opportunity to get experience in dealing with patients," Shinoda said.
"It's the least we can do to support those who work to protect us," said Davis Hospital CEO Michael Jensen. He said it is "an honor" to have the medics on site, and he hopes the program continues.
"We intend to do this more — as much as the military needs," he said. "The military is so important to us as a community. (The airmen) are a part of our military family here."