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News | May 22, 2014

JTF-Bravo's MEDEL; 1-228th respond to MEDEVAC request

By Capt. Steven Stubbs Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element (MEDEL) and 1-228th Aviation Regiment responded to a Honduran government request for a ground and air medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) of an automobile accident victim to the Hospital Militar in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, May 13, 2014.

A vehicle traveling west on Honduras Highway CA-5 13 miles outside of Comayagua was struck from behind by a tractor trailer truck. The 18-wheeler subsequently pushed the vehicle into the trailer of another tractor trailer crushing the vehicle.

MEDEL dispatched an ambulance to the scene of the wreck at 9:30 a.m. to provide medical care and assist in the extraction of the patient. Due to the severity of the accident, the emergency medical technicians (EMTs) ensured they had the proper equipment and medications to deal with potential crush injuries.

"The patient was still pinned, but stable, inside the vehicle when we arrived," said U. S. Army Sgt. Kevin Bargery, a MEDEL EMT. "Local first responders had gained intravenous (IV) access and provided the patient pain medication. They utilized the Jaws of Life to free the patient's legs and we were able to extract him onto a backboard. The patient was placed in a neck brace and Dr. Miguel Coello, (MEDEL Liaison Officer) performed a head to toe assessment."

Once the patient was in the ambulance, the crew transported him to Soto Cano Air Base where a UH-60 Blackhawk MEDEVAC helicopter awaited. Bargery splinted the patient's right leg due to a possible tibia/fibia fracture and prepped him for the flight to Tegucigalpa. He stated that being able to assist someone in need of medical attention is gratifying.

"Once at MEDEL, we transferred the patient from out stretcher to a litter and loaded the patient upon the helicopter. It is always very rewarding to be able to utilize my skills to provide assistance to someone in need. It was a fantastic group effort from various departments at MEDEL to ensure a rapid response and a well coordinated MEDEVAC."

When Charlie Company, 1-228th, received the call for the air MEDEVAC, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Seth Wagner, the flight medic for the MEDEVAC, started preparing to receive and give care to the injured party.

"I considered all expected injuries and prepared any medical interventions I felt that I may have used in duration of the flight," he said. "I'll do things like pre-draw medications that I know I will be using, prepare any stabilization equipment, and ready some IV sets."

When the patient arrived at the MEDEL helicopter landing pad, he was in stable condition and did not show any signs of extreme trauma one would expect from such a serious accident. His condition remained constant throughout the flight. Once arriving at Hospital Militar, the patient was found to only have suffered minor cuts and bruises.

"It wasn't until afterward, when I was able to see the actual scene, did I realize how remarkable this patient's outcome was," said Wagner. "Due to the severity of the accident, the situation deemed it necessary that he be transported via urgent MEDEVAC. This case was one of those that you are left scratching your head about. Thankfully the patient turned out great. "

This MEDEVAC mission showed that the procedures Joint Task Force-Bravo, MEDEL and 1-228th have in place work without any faults. From the time MEDEL received the call to the ambulance being dispatched, to the occupant's extraction from the vehicle, and his transfer from the scene of the accident to Soto Cano Air Base to Hospital Militar only took two hours to complete.

"This mission showed that the system set in place for expedient patient transfer from the scene, to MEDEL's EMT platoon, to 1-228th MEDEVAC Company, and end state to the hospital worked without falter," added Wagner. "The bond and camaraderie between the Honduran local authorities, the people of Honduras, and the United States Armed Forces has become stronger. It makes me happy knowing that if there is a next time, the people of Honduras will know that the members of the United States Armed Forces are not only capable, but are willing and happy, to take the necessary means to assist them in the face of adversity."