LANDSTUHL, Germany – As the noncommissioned officer in charge of the respiratory department at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Staff Sgt. Michael Hernandez is involved in multiple critical care areas around the hospital.
“I work in the intensive care unit, the COVID clinic, help manage patients on ventilators and any other kind of mechanical support for ventilation,” said the Ridgely, Md., native. “I also conduct breathing tests to clear people for medical issues and people who need to be tested, such as pilots and firefighters.”
Hernandez joined the U.S. Army because he wanted more education and a chance to do something greater than what he was doing.
Prior to becoming a respiratory specialist, he was a combat medic with an infantry unit.
“I really enjoyed the emergency medicine portion of that job and decided to get more school and specialize in this area,” said Hernandez.
He currently manages nine people - six Army and three Air Force. Together they comprise the pulmonary services team.
“We are there for every birth in the hospital and things like neonatal intensive care unit transports,” he said. “In our critical care areas, we would normally help with something like someone who suffered a collapsed lung on the battlefield, but COVID has taken a lot of our focus this year. You currently have to be tested for COVID before any testing in our department.”
Hernandez was also part of a team that went to Vicenza, Italy in March to set up an ICU from scratch. He spent 35 days there.
Long-term, Hernandez said he would like to go back to San Antonio as an instructor, where he trained for his job.
“What I enjoy most about the job is training my Soldiers and Airmen,” he said. “I really enjoy teaching what I know; what I love.”