By Ms. Kaytrina Curtis (Army Medicine)June 5, 2019
"In this job nobody ever calls 911 on their best day," said MEDDAC Paramedic, Jim Luck.
A few minutes later, a call from the radio cut through the silence, "Assault with injuries." At once, MEDDAC Ambulance Office and Shelter Emergency Medical Services technicians and paramedics methodically prepare to answer the plea for help.
The proud wail of two ambulance sirens and blazoned strobe lights help the first responders maneuver through the on-post traffic. This call is one in approximately seven they receive each day.
Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield women and men first responders remain ready to provide the highest quality of healthcare to Soldiers, Family Members and those in the surrounding communities.
Vito Powers, a paramedic and retired Soldier with more than 24 years' experience in the medical services field as a flight paramedic, said his role at AOS is a "most noble" profession, one of which he takes seriously.
"You are afforded the opportunity to save lives in the defense of our nation and in the face of our enemies," Powers lamented.
Uniquely, the medical services section has the opportunity to partner with Stewart-Hunter combat medic Soldiers on a 90-day rotational basis. This collaboration gives the Soldiers additional readiness training, while helping fill empty positions.
Specialist Paul Abante, a 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Soldier was at the end of his three-month training and commented on the differences.
"On the line we are just taking care of our guys," Abante said about serving in his unit, "and they are completely different from civilians. The biggest difference to me was being able to actually see what we do in the back of an ambulance … I got to actually put all my skills to use. We want to see how well we can deliver under pressure and doing that here, was amazing."
Art Rinconnes, an emergency medical technician with more than a combined 40 years of military and civilian service under his belt, said mentorship is an important aspect of his career.
"They [Soldiers] get the chance to see the other side of EMS and hospital care," Rinconnes explained. "A lot of them have said they would like to go on, continue on with medical care, even possibly going into EMS."
Luck said the chance of seeing people's lives impacted in a "horribly negative way," is high, and a strong support system is important for longevity.
"The ability to deal with that [witnessing traumas], to process that is extremely important for long-term mental health," Luck said. "So we try to develop a group where they would feel free to talk to each other and reach out to each other, but it's still a struggle."
Luck said the camaraderie between him and his coworkers is second to none.
"The reality is that anything that we go through individually in our daily lives, the other guys are always reaching out and saying 'hey, how are you, what's going on, how did it go'…not with just negative things, but with positive things and that's extremely beneficial," Luck said.
So the next time red flashing lights are in the rear-view mirror, pull over, because no matter the call, the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield EMS team is ready to answer on our worst day.