By Staff Sgt. Alexander BurnettMay 1, 2014
MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU, Romania - When a service member gets sick or injured while stationed or passing through this airbase in Romania, their first stop is a small aid station for treatment. Once inside, they see that Soldiers are not the only ones providing medical services in the Army-run building. Standing alongside their Army counterparts are Navy corpsmen.
More than 10 Soldier medics and Navy corpsmen join forces at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Airbase aid station to provide medical care to permanent party and transient personnel.
The Army medics working at the aid station are assigned to the 21st Theater Sustainment Command's 557th Medical Company, 421st Multi-Medical Battalion, 30th Medical Brigade, and the Navy corpsmen are assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, as part of the Black Sea Rotational Force. Although the corpsmen are members of BSRF, they assist in the treatment of transient Soldiers, Sailors and Marines. With the passenger transit mission in full effect, the number of service members the small group of medical professionals is responsible for can grow up to 2,000, said Capt. Karla S. Holt, the sexual assault nurse examiner at MK Airbase and a native of San Antonio.
"Typically we only see five to 10 patients per day," said Holt, who also works in the aid station. "But we are ready to see more if the need arises."
The unique opportunity that presents itself to the Soldiers and sailors working at the aid station is the chance to train and treat side by side. The Soldiers learn practices and techniques from Navy corpsmen and vice versa. When the clinic is not busy, members of both services will give classes on their medical practices to keep the station's overall readiness high, said Petty Officer 1st Class Marc D. Aspiras, an independent duty corpsman assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines and a native of Virginia Beach, Va.
"There is nothing but advantages to both sides, and it is a great learning experience for all of us working in this environment," Aspiras said. "The Army has very specific treatment techniques for the corpsmen to learn. The Navy is very fluid with their mission and has to adapt quickly. The Soldiers are learning to be more flexible and adapt to their patients' needs."
The two services have conducted training in treating blisters, diagnosing muscle and bone injury, opening an airway, stopping bleeding and pharmaceutical treatment. The Soldiers from the 557th Medical Company are especially grateful for the experience.
"It's great to be able to learn and work in this environment; it's something we don't really get when we are at our home station in Baumholder, Germany," said Spc. Matthew C. Reinhardt, a medic assigned to the 557th Medical Company and a native of San Clemente, Calif. "We don't get to work with patients or do diagnoses like this on a regular basis, so we are learning a lot."
As the mission at MK Airbase moves forward, so does the training between the medical professionals. The Army and Navy are working together to improve the aid station and further its capabilities, said Maj. Juli C. Fung, the aid station officer in charge and a native of Los Angeles.
"We recently refined several of our procedures with the help of the Air Force flight surgeon and our Navy corpsmen," Fung said. "We want to keep developing new procedures and improving the old ones to keep this place ready for anything."