By Lt.Cmdr. Jesse EhrenfeldJanuary 15, 2015
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Since 2006, anesthesiologists from the U.S., Australia, the Netherlands and Canada have been a constant force at the NATO Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit on Kandahar, Airfield. Today, a team of three U.S. Navy physician anesthesiologists carry on the mission of providing "The Best Care, Anywhere" - the hospital's standing motto.
The hospital is the primary trauma receiving and referral center for all combat casualties in Southern Afghanistan and is a key partner in supporting the NATO combatants, allied forces and partners in accomplishing their missions.
This is the second deployment for Lt. Cmdr. William J. Epps, an active duty physician anesthesiologist from Navy Medical Center Portsmouth. He commented, "Being able to take care of patients from so many different places - U.S., the U.K., Romania, Afghanistan - patients, who really need us, is so satisfying. It's Navy Medicine at it's best."
Working in a 70,000 square foot rocket-resistant state of the art facility, these anesthesiologists care for patients in the hospital's three operating rooms, intensive care unit, and the trauma bay.
"We are fortunate to have not only state-of-the-art equipment," said Lt. Cmdr. Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, a reservist from Nashville, Tennessee, and physician anesthesiologist, "but we also have an incredibly talented group of hospital staff, physicians, nurses, and corpsmen - all of whom come together to make sure our patients receive the highest level of care, as quickly as possible." That high quality care has led a 98% overall coalition survival rate since the hospital opened.
Lt. Cmdr. Ted Campbell, an active duty physician anesthesiologist from Naval Medical Center Jacksonville finds the extraordinary teamwork, one of the more remarkable pieces of the experience working in a combat hospital.
"Every acute casualty that arrives is greeted in the trauma bay by a fully trained emergency physician, a trauma surgeon, a general surgeon, a radiologist, an orthopedic surgeon, a neurosurgeon and of course a physician anesthesiologist - nowhere else in the world do you have that kind of expertise coming together to quickly manage even the worst of injuries."
Anesthesiology expertise runs deep at the NATO Role 3, whether a patient is undergoing a surgical procedure, receiving life-saving treatment in the trauma bay, or getting a nerve block for pain control. Physician anesthesiologists in the deployed setting provide a wide-range of care to keep patients safe, and return to duty.
"Anesthesia is safe, but there are still risks," commented Ehrenfeld. "But that's why we are here. To make sure all of our patients make it back home."