By Pvt. Nicholas VidroJuly 16, 2017
MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU AIR BASE, Romania - US Army Soldiers with the 212th Combat Support Hospital, 30th Medical Brigade, brought their unique talents to a mass casualty exercise at Mihail Kogalnicenau Air Base, Romania on July 16, 2017. The wide-ranging exercise was held at multiple locations throughout the country, but ultimately culminated at MK Air Base, where simulated patients were treated as realistically as possible upon arrival by doctors and other medical personnel.
The MASCAL was one of the larger multinational exercises of Saber Guardian, a US European Command, US Army Europe-led exercise between the US and its Allies and partners that spans several countries in Eastern Europe, and is designed to foster readiness and enhance the unified command in the region.
Exercises like this can be particularly stressful for the Combat Support Hosptial (CSH) patient administration section, as they monitor and treat patients from arrival to discharge. As soon as the ambulance arrives on the scene, the patient is brought in, surrounded by a team of medics and other medical personnel. From there, a patient administration clerk will tag the patient with a number used to track their movements throughout the hospital.
Capt. Ashley Denoyer, chief patient administrator of the 212th CSH, was quick to summarize this extremely important but often less publicized component of medical care.
"We're kind of the brains of the hospital. While doctors are focused on patient care we have to be aware of everything else," she said.
That 'everything' includes ensuring adequate supplies that medical personnel may need, from bandages and blood-bags to surgical instruments. They're also responsible for cataloging patients' possessions and ensuring that they follow them everywhere the patient might have to go. With such constant movements being the normal routine, the administrators need to pay close attention to everything going on. Denoyer elaborated on how this challenge is overcome.
"Time management is very important to us because once the patient leaves they're hard to get back. This is especially difficult with our foreign national patients," she said.
Additionally, it's not just the challenges involved in keeping track of a single patient, but the need for even greater vigilance when monitoring large numbers of arriving patients like those in a MASCAL exercise.
Spc. Moses Kiplagat, a patient administration clerk with the 212th CSH, said that while keeping track of these minute-to-minute operations can be nerve-wracking at times, he and his fellow patient administration soldiers never skip a beat. Despite the frequent trials, however, the mission remains an enjoyable and fulfilling one for those involved.
"It's all really exciting, but also challenging, because you never know what to expect," he said.