MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Medical technicians are normally the first to see a patient, leaving them to assess if someone is simply sick or should be in an emergency room.
After recognizing a patient with life-threatening symptoms, one of Team Moody’s medical technicians was recently honored for quickly responding to a potentially dire situation.
“I knew right away I needed to let the provider know and figure out what we were going to do for them,” said Senior Airman Kristen Aubrey, 23rd Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician. “We called and made them go to the ER right away, because it could have been the onset of another heart attack.”
Anytime a patient reports having active chest pain, the clinic directs them to the ER. They do this not only due to the severity of the situation, but also because clinics do not have the proper equipment to handle that particular emergency.
Soon after, Aubrey was lauded by Col. Thomas Kunkel, 23rd Wing commander, and again by Brig. Gen. Sean Murphey, Air Combat Command command surgeon, for her “good catch.”
“She got a ‘Good Catch’ award because that could’ve been the difference between life and death if this person was waiting days to be seen for chest pain,” said 1st Lt. George Anthony DeVita, 23rd MDOS certified physician assistant. “The technician is kind of like the eyes and ears of the clinic.
“They’re the first one the patients see, so we rely on them to recognize when someone shouldn’t be here but maybe in the emergency department,” DeVita added. “At the end of the day, it’s a time [factor].”
Not only is time an issue in emergency situations but also in routine medical day-to-day operations to ensure a steady flow of patients. The medical technicians help schedule appointments and then help assess the situation before briefing a provider to make the ultimate treatment plan.
“Every 20 minutes, they’re doing a whole [routine],” DeVita said. “Basically saying, ‘This is why they’re here; this is what we plan on talking about.’ [Technicians] usually take the initiative to book [the patient’s] appointment.
“We knowingly ask a lot of our technicians,” DeVita added. “It’s very high-pressure, and if you’re trying to do well, it can sometimes be very overwhelming.”
Aubrey said initially the high turnaround rate of patients and heavy volume of phone calls can be a lot of work to keep up with, but said she’s grown to manage it well.
“I cried once when I had only been here for a few months,” Aubrey said. “I was just so overwhelmed. I don’t think I’d change anything though. I chose this job, and I’m glad I did because I really like it. I love being here, and I love the people I work with. I’ve made a lot of life-long friends here.”
Although the stress had gotten to Aubrey a time or two early in her career, DeVita said he’s impressed by her progress over the last year.
“She stays motivated, which is good,” DeVita said. “In a year, she’s turned from somebody who wasn’t quite sure how the medical model works to now it’s very easy for her.”
DeVita added he has no doubt she’ll be doing much different things with much greater responsibilities 10 years from now.
“Without [technicians], there’s no way I’d be able to do my job,” DeVita added.