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Tracking patients
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Staff Sgt. Giacomo Zignago, an aerospace medical technician from Task Force Med/455th Expeditionary Medical Group, tracks inbound and outbound patients on a white board at the contingency aeromedical staging facility here, Sept. 13, 2009. Sergeant Zignago is a Stockton, Calif., native and is deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. Tracking the patients can be a dynamic and fluid process according to officials here, especially when environmental factors such as weather, noise and the stress of combat are factored in. The CASF, as it’s known here, is designed to ease the patient-load at the main hospital here and provides and overflow capability. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Felicia Juenke)
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Airmen at contingency facility provide rest, comfort for servicemembers

Posted 9/15/2009   Updated 9/15/2009 Email story   Print story

    


by Capt. David Faggard
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs


9/15/2009 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- In an air-conditioned tent, the sounds of Army Blackhawks carrying the wounded can be heard a few dozen feet away, as wounded servicemembers eagerly await for an aeromedical evacuation flight to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

A recent addition to the medical team's capabilities here is the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility, "an overflow facility for the main hospital," said Capt. Bostella Walker, a nurse deployed form Langley Air Force Base, Va., who serves as the officer in charge of the facility that sees many of Afghanistan's out-patient medical cases.

Medics see patients with a variety of injuries here, according to the captain, a Vicksburg, Miss. native.

"From nine-line IED injuries in the lower extremities, to traumas, we're an extension of the hospital." According to the captain, the overflow capability was severely tested this week when a large group of more than 20 patients were waiting for flights to Germany.

Caring and housing for these patients as they move through the aeromedical process is a challenge, according to Tech. Sgt. Jason Stalling, a hospital administrator deployed from Scott AFB, Ill. who ensures the floors are mopped at least twice a day trying to keep the Afghan dust out of the tent.

"We have filled this facility with patients; and that's not a good thing," the sergeant from Indianapolis said about the air-conditioned structure comprised of multiple joined Alaska tents. "The first month we were open [July], we saw the most amount of injuries ever." from Operating Enduring Freedom. They exceeded that number in August and are track for breaking records in September as well, according to Sergeant Stalling.

As the Craig Joint Theater Hospital's overflow facility, the tents are lined with medical supplies, stretchers and gear you'd expect to find in any major hospital, but something was lacking.

"There was nothing for them to do," said Sergeant Stalling looking on at four Army soldiers waiting on transportation, which could take days to arrive. "All they could do was sit on their beds; now the USO donated more than 7,000 dollars of TVs, games and DVDs for the wounded."

Large screen televisions played Armed Forces Network and movies while the servicemembers were waiting on their flights.

"I got here three days ago and there was nothing," said Army Pfc. Christopher Sednek, a native of Shelbyville, Ind., who was waiting on transportation for a respiratory problem. Now there's a big screen for movies, and popular Playstation Portable gaming devices for the wounded to play if they desire. "Often times, we're taken out of the field with nothing, just the clothes we're wearing. This is nice to have; it takes your mind off of things and helps the days go by."

The Airmen at the CASF treat everyone, from Americans to Afghans, to Coalition servicemembers. Lt. Col. Eid Al Abadi, from Jordan, was resting on a cot near a field hospital sink, fed by five-gallon jerry cans of water.

"It's a good place to rest and wait," he said through a translator. "I am thankful for them."



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