Faces From the Front for March 2, 2009 - Sgt. Ryan Chicoine
Current Unit: 345th CSH Bravo Co.
Current Position: Community Health Specialist/ Education Dept/ Field Sanitation Team
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: COB Speicher, Tikrit, Iraq
Hometown: Shakopee, Minn.
Years of Service: 7
Sgt. Ryan Chicoine saves lives. His degree from the University of Minnesota, his medical training and his Army training have all prepared him with the trauma and combat lifesaving skills necessary to treat Soldiers urgently needing his care in Iraq. But as Chicoine found out quickly when he deployed, treating trauma patients wasn't where he was most urgently needed. It is his skills as a community health specialist and educator that are saving the most lives in Iraq.
In his role as a Combat Lifesaving (CLS) instructor, Chicoine takes Soldiers who know virtually nothing about medical treatment and in one week transforms them into individuals with whom he would trust his own life — certainly no easy feat. However, Chicoine welcomes the challenge because training Soldiers to care for their comrades on the battlefield means that injured Soldiers are in better condition when they reach a medic, greatly contributing to the rising wounded Soldier survival rate.
"The CLS course used to be taught to select personnel to help the medic. But now most units are 100% on CLS training and the impact shows at a combat support hospital with the number of Soldiers who are doing better than would be expected by the time we see them," said Chicoine. "What we are learning in terms of treating trauma patients will continue to change not only how the Army provides urgent medical care, but how the U.S. does overall."
When Chicoine trained at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2003-2004, he saw patients arriving from overseas still in critical condition because of the high demand for urgent care. With Soldiers receiving the right care faster as a result of the CLS training efforts, Chicoine has seen survival and recovery rates improve at the Combat Support Hospital (CSH) at COB Speicher in Iraq.
The Army has also continued to emphasize preventative care and health maintenance to keep Soldiers in fighting form. Chicoine's other primary role is in community health, tracking medical trends and instructing Soldiers on how to care for themselves. To support this effort, Chicoine recently took on a large part in organizing two health fairs in Iraq. The fairs provided more than 800 Soldiers and local residents with information on topics such as mental health, spiritual health, nutrition and preventive medicine.
Chicoine's own education is a priority for him while he is in Iraq. For medical professionals in the Army Reserves such as Chicoine, maintaining the necessary continuing education credits to keep their licenses current is imperative. They cannot return to their civilian jobs post-deployment otherwise. With a goal of attending medical school in the Spring of 2010, Chicoine is finishing three final online classes while in Iraq to become a Registered Nurse. He plans to take the MCATs in the fall.
Chicoine will return home to his fiancée, April, in Shakopee, Minn. in March 2009.