Operation Tribute to Freedom

Faces From the Front for July 12, 2010 - Pfc. Kyle Johnson

Private First Class Kyle Johnson

Current Unit: 1st Platoon, Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 153rd Cavalry Regiment
Current Position: Platoon Medic
Component: Florida National Guard
Current Location: Kuwait
Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.
Years of Service: 4

An emergency room technician at Baptist Medical Center South in Jacksonville, Fla., Pfc. Kyle Johnson is trying his hand at administering medical care in a combat zone. Currently serving in Kuwait as a platoon medic, Johnson is responsible for providing his Soldiers with everything from medical advice to trauma treatment.

Many of the cases Johnson is treating overseas are far different from the types of medical issues he dealt with in his civilian work at the medical center, but that hasn't stopped the Soldier from drawing parallels between the two and leveraging his previous experience to aid him in current work.

“Battlefield medicine and hospital medicine are two totally different genres of care. In the hospital we treat diseases, deal with pediatric issues and provide end of life care, on the battlefield most of our work revolves around trauma patients,” Johnson explained. “However there are definitely things that I learned in the civilian world that I can transfer over to my military work here in Kuwait.”

While Johnson is responsible for providing both routine and emergency care, he personally prefers to assist in crisis situations, understanding that the urgent care he provides to his Soldiers is vital to their health. In addition, Johnson finds that providing emergency care allows him to grow his medical skills and learn to rely solely on his own expertise to assess injuries and provide the appropriate remedies.

“I try and make daily rounds to check on my guys, making sure none of them have any new medical issues,” Johnson said. “But emergency care is where my heart is. Unlike in a hospital, every aspect of care is in my hands. I act as the doctor, nurse and emergency medical technician. I have to call all the shots and it's a total rush.”

Some of the most common medical issues Johnson has seen throughout his deployment are heat stress injuries and wounds caused by car accidents. Thus the Soldier has become quite proficient at dealing with these types of problems. However, one of the largest challenges Johnson faces in providing medical care to his Soldiers is timing.

“It's difficult if one of my Soldiers need me and we keep missing each other,” Johnson said. “Conflicting schedules are the most challenging, but I do everything possible to find time for my Soldiers and bring my care to wherever they need me.”

Johnson is proud of the work that he has done during his deployment and realizes that the relationships he's built with his fellow Soldiers in Kuwait will last a lifetime. That said, Johnson looks forward to putting the skills that he has acquired during his time overseas to use back home.

Slated to return to the U.S. late this year, Johnson plans on getting married to his fiancée, Sarah. After which he will resume his studies at Florida State College of Jacksonville where he is working toward completing a paramedic program.

“I'll be able to take what I learned here and transfer it over to my schooling,” Johnson said. “I can use the knowledge to be on par with students a year ahead of me. Stuff my fellow students will be learning in a text book I've seen in real life because of my military career.”

Johnson also plans to return to his work at the medical center.

“This deployment has made me more confident in myself. There are a lot of experienced people at the hospital but I will feel more comfortable jumping into a conversation and offering up suggestions on treatment for various issues, based on my experiences here.”

All and all Johnson knows that his deployment has had a huge impact on his career and it has only furthered his desire to help others through medicine.

“Emergency medicine has been my passion for a very long time and my deployment has helped that passion to grow. I believe I will be a better medical professional because of what I learned here.”

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