FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 31, 2012) -- The Soldiers of the U.S. Army School of Aviation Medicine said goodbye to a familiar face as they welcomed a new dean during the USASAM change of dean ceremony May 24.

Soldiers gathered at the newly built USASAM training facility on Dust Off Avenue and watched as outgoing dean of USASAM, Col. Vincent C. Carnazza, gave the controls to the incoming dean, Col. Brian Smalley.

Smalley attended flight surgeon school as a captain and said he remembers thinking that to be the dean of the school of Aviation medicine would be a great job to have.

Seventeen years later, Smalley finds himself in the position of having the responsibility of that great job he once coveted and said he plans to continue the great work that Carnazza has done in the time before him.

"I know this next year will be challenging, but I'm up for the task and I know the staff is ready," he said. "Aviation medicine is my life and my passion, and there is nowhere else I'd rather be."

Smalley thanked his wife, Mary, and credited her as the secret to his success, adding that she was his mentor as he went through his flight medic training. Smalley also thanked Carnazza, his wife, Jane, and all of the USASAM Soldiers for making him "feel like part of the Family."

USASAM is the only Aviation medical training facility in the Army and is where training for all flight surgeons, flight medics and air medical training flight students takes place, according to the new dean.

"Aviation medicine is unique," he said. "I've been a flight surgeon for 17 years and we take care of the Aviators."

USASAM's future is ever changing and Smalley said that an upcoming change will be to train flight medics as paramedics, who require more medical training.

"That's our biggest issue right now," he said. "Flight medics have always been emergency medical team intermediates, but now they will have paramedic-level training."

Smalley said that the paramedic-level training offers a higher level of care and helps focus on critical care, especially to Soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Carnazza and Smalley both share the same outlook on the future of USASAM when it comes to providing excellence in medical care in Aviation and constantly striving to make that care better.

"I can say with certitude that this unit will be the centerpiece for the Army in evolving en route care," said Carnazza. "The future [of USASAM] is surgical intervention, and more sophisticated platforms and equipment. USASAM generating the solutions for these future challenges will … continue the Dustoff tradition of excellence."

One of the ways that USASAM is looking toward the future and providing better care for Soldiers is with its new Aviation medical training facility.

"[The new facility] is specifically designed to increase the amount of space for flight medic students to train," said Capt. Amy Bauer, USASAM chief of current operations.

The need for the addition came because of increasing student numbers and projected growth of the Flight Medic Course, she added. The new facility will allow USASAM to conduct station training and simulation training in separate facilities rather than in one building.

The new facility is just one way that USASAM will be providing excellence into the future, but core values and leadership also play a vital role in the success of the organization, said the outgoing dean.

"Our mission is so well aligned with our Army core values and the passion to save a life is in each of our instructors and civilians," said Carnazza. "I have total confidence in Colonel Smalley … for taking the lead in such a dynamic time."