By Dr. Steven Galvan (Army Medicine)June 19, 2018
The U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center Burn Flight Team deployed to Guatemala June 6 to transport six critically injured pediatric burn patients to the Shriner's Hospital for Children in Galveston, Texas. The BFT departed from Fort Sam Houston with a burn/trauma surgeon, a burn intensivist, five critical care nurses, a respiratory therapist and a forward operations non-commissioned officer. The team flew from San Antonio to Guatemala and on to Galveston on a C-17 aircraft from the Mississippi Air National Guard's 172nd Airlift Wing.
Maj. (Dr.) Julie Rizzo, USAISR Burn Center burn/trauma surgeon and officer-in-charge of the Burn Flight Team was very proud of the team's mission outcome.
"I brought the 'A' team and they did an amazing job," said Rizzo. "I am extremely proud of the team's mission success; it was flawless and the patients were ready for any surgical procedures necessary."
The patients transported to Galveston were all children needing specialized treatment and the teamwork between the Army and Air Force ensured the patients' safe transport from Guatemala to the U.S.
"The mission was challenging for a number of reasons," added Rizzo. "But we knew what we had to do and we focused on that and we safely brought the patients to where they can receive the best medical care."
USAISR Burn Center Director, Dr. Leopoldo "Lee" Cancio, a retired Army colonel is a former member of the Burn Flight Team and knows the team's capabilities and was not surprised of the successful mission.
"Every member of this team has the expertise, training and qualifications to ensure the patients are taken care of as soon as we get to them," he said. "I am very proud of our Burn Flight Team, not only for this mission's success, but for every mission it is deployed to because every mission is important and takes the best qualified members of our Burn Center to make sure we get the patients to their destinations safely and as quickly as possible."
The BFT was augmented by an Air Force Critical Care Air Transport Team stationed in San Antonio. "I was very impressed with the Burn Flight Team and the work that they did during this mission," said Air Force Capt. Andrea Perez, a member of the CCATT and a pediatric nurse at Brooke Army Medical Center. "They were very organized and proficient. It was great to work with them."
A parent of one of the burn patients, who wished to remain anonymous, was grateful for the mission and impressed with the team's capabilities.
"It's amazing how well-equipped the plane is to assist children," said the parent. "They cared a lot for every patient."
Since 1951, the USAISR Burn Center has deployed Army Burn Flight Teams throughout the world to provide specialized burn care and to transport burn casualties to military and civilian medical treatment facilities in the U.S. Most recently, the Burn Flight Teams have transported several hundred of the most critically ill combat casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Team members maintain proficiency by working daily in the Burn Center's Intensive Care Unit, and by monthly flight team training exercises.