Military News

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Vermont National Guard members help wounded bicyclist on way home from serving as Honor Guard


By Air National Guard Senior Airman Victoria Greenia
Vermont National Guard

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt.  -- Vermont Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Darren Adams and Airman 1st Class Megan Robitaille were on their way back from Honor Guard detail in Bennington May 7, when Robitaille, who was familiar with the area, suggested they use a slightly off-beat road to save time on the trip home.

As they drove on through Hubbardton, Robitaille thought she saw a blue blanket or tarp in the middle of the road. Adams narrowed his eyes, saying "Is that what I think it is?"

Their fears were confirmed when they pulled up next to the bicyclist who's unnervingly still body lay in the middle of the southbound lane near a crest of the hill. Not far from him lay his crumpled bike, and a short distance away was a distraught lady in a car that had apparently collided with it.

Robitaille had gone to school for sports medicine and was used to helping injured people on the playing field. Adams had been an emergency medical technician for 13 years and had more than 3,000 rescues under his belt.

Both, still in full honor-guard uniform, rushed to the man after parking their car sideways to block on-coming traffic from the accident scene. There was no hesitation as training – both military and school – kicked in.

"I felt very confident we could help this man," said Robitaille. "It was instinct; this was what we had to do."

He was an older man, grey hair and wearing blue biking gear, and from the frothy saliva from his mouth the two VTANG members could see he was having snoring respiration or difficulty breathing.

It was obvious to them the man had gone into shock and was unconscious.

Using exact steps from Self-Aid Buddy Care to turn the man from his side, careful of possible spinal injuries, the two placed him on his back. From there, Adams got behind the man's head and thrusted the biker's jaw forward so the tongue wouldn't be blocking the airways. Meanwhile, Robitaille checked his pulse and then tried to warm his body with a blanket, which was cold and clammy despite the 75 degree weather.

A Central Vermont Public Service worker who came upon the scene shortly after them used his cell phone to contact 911.

"It's funny," Adams said, "because we're in our blues but it doesn't say who we are. I could tell the [emergency] call-taker was asking if there [were] first responders there and he says, 'I think the Air Force is here.' I could imagine the call-taker thinking a lot of good that's going to do."

But Robitaille and Adams did a lot of good – after holding the man's jaw forward to keep his tongue from blocking his breathing for a quarter of an hour, the man regained painful consciousness.

He could tell the VTANG his name, but didn't know where he was or where he was going or what day it was. Adams was able to do a head-to-toe assessment of the man's condition. Aside to the expected cuts and abrasions, the biker seemed to have a broken shoulder, ribs, and a head injury. The man's bike helmet had thankfully soaked up much of the impact.

"We went from burying a veteran to saving a civilian," Robitalle said. "It's one of those bittersweet things when you can't believe this is happening, but it's such a rewarding experience to be able to save someone's life." She said she hopes to see him again.

Both of them said that although they had a medical background which was obviously helpful in this situation, they are sure the SABC training through the Air National Guard would enable any service-member to be able to potentially save a person's life. The biggest factor is staying calm and letting the training come to you.

Wisconsin Guard part of tactical operation in Kosovo


By Sgt. 1st Class Jim Wagner
MNBG E Public Affairs Office

RUDARE, Kosovo - From planning to execution, Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers helped successfully remove a roadblock on the outskirts of this small northern Kosovo town June 1, improving freedom of movement for Kosovo residents.

Badger state Soldiers are currently deployed to Kosovo as part of the headquarters element of Multinational Battle Group East (MNBG E), one of two battle groups in the region supporting Kosovo Force (KFOR), a NATO peacekeeping mission.

The blocked roadway - the main artery between the southern portion of Rudare and Mitrovica - was one of nine roadblocks KFOR officials had determined prevented freedom of movement in the region.

In addition to providing a safe and secure environment, KFOR is charged to ensure freedom of movement throughout Kosovo as part of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244.

The operation was conducted in the early morning hours, while most residents of the town were leaving for work. Soldiers from the German and U.S. contingents quickly established vehicle control points and a security perimeter so the Portuguese-led KFOR Tactical Maneuver Battalion (KTM) could bring in the heavy equipment required to remove the substantial concrete, gravel and debris barrier.

Soldiers from other MNBG E multinational contingents arrived in the subsequent hours to provide follow-on security to the area.

U.S. forces on the ground were comprised primarily of Soldiers from the Georgia Army National Guard's 3rd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment. The unit's headquarters element, located at MNBG E's forward command post (FCP) at Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo, developed the operation's course of action using lessons learned from other operations, current intelligence estimates and manning requirements.

Mission planners adapted their requirements to encompass key terrain - namely a bridge connecting Rudare with the city of Zvecan, as well as a road intersection north of the bridge - that needed to be controlled in order to ensure this mission's success.

Further complicating the operation was the complexity involved in getting more than eight different nations to execute the mission plan in a coordinated manner from several camps located throughout Kosovo.

According to Lt. Col. Joseph Lynch, FCP commander from 3rd Squadron, 108th Cavalry, concerns over potential miscues were quickly erased as the operation launched. Detailed planning and close coordination among all participants, he said, ensured the successful removal of the roadblock.

"Without the close coordination and cooperation of all nations involved, we could not have accomplished what we did," Lynch said. "We are extremely pleased that all the multinational units in this operation performed their missions with professionalism and excellence. I continue to be impressed by the level of dedication demonstrated by all the contributing nations."

"The operation was a total success, from the conception and planning of the operation to the execution on the ground by the Soldiers in this battle group," said Col. Jeffrey Liethen, MNBG E commander from the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. "I couldn't be prouder of the men and women who performed their duties so admirably."

Two KFOR soldiers were injured by gunfire during the operation after unidentified individuals in a violent crowd of protestors opened fire on security forces. MNBG E forces responded in self-defense, using tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition. The injured KFOR troops were not Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers.

KFOR officials strongly condemned the violence instigated by individuals who started the escalation of violence in the first place. A NATO press release stated that KFOR would respond proportionally and "continue to do so firmly, prudently and impartially, in full compliance with our mandate. That is what our troops have been doing for the last 12 years at considerable risk to their own safety. We urge all parties to avoid unilateral moves, inflammatory statements or violent acts."

Face of Defense: Air Force Flight Surgeon Saves Lives


By Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
23rd Wing Public Affairs

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga.  – Leaning over a small desk, Air Force flight surgeon Capt. Susan Marchiano finishes reviewing a patient's medical file. The tall, dark-haired doctor has a warm, friendly voice that makes people feel at ease.

She has worked everywhere from small, spotless rooms furnished with reclining leather chairs, to the inside of thundering HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters in Afghanistan.

Marchiano, flight commander of the 347th Operations Support Squadron here, was recognized as the Air Force’s best flight surgeon for 2011.

"It was a combination of her outstanding efforts, both downrange and flight medicine duties at home, that won her the award," said Air Force Lt. Col. David Blocker, the commander of the 23rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron. "Marchiano not only distinguished herself downrange but also displayed a willingness to fill leadership roles while caring for the rescue personnel."

Marchiano began her military career as a flight surgeon three years ago. Her interest in medicine, she said, started like most other doctors -- with wanting to help people.

"Back when I was growing up, I had a friend who died of cancer," Marchiano said. "That's what convinced me to become a doctor."

In early 2011, Marchiano deployed to Afghanistan, where she distinguished herself as a casualty evacuation medical director.

Marchiano led from the front in Afghanistan, Blocker said, noting she’d notched more than 130 combat flying hours there in 2011, and was credited with saving 82 lives.

Marchiano said she enjoys maintaining her squadron’s operational readiness here.  "I get to see and interact with the aircrew and rescue personnel," she said. "We help train the pararescuemen and assist them with medical treatment and evacuation."

Marchiano also helps care for the more than 1,200 patients at the flight medicine clinic here. She also supervises seven medical personnel who provide care, sustainment training and education for more than 400 service members.

"One of the things that made her stand out was that she made herself available for patients," Blocker said. "She also did an outstanding job providing rescue personnel with their specialized training. From the time she was first assigned to Moody, she took hold of opportunities and ran with them. You normally don't see that level of work until later in a career.”

Marchiano also “understands patient care, medical responsibilities and the operations we do," he added. "There is a difference between serving as a doctor in the military and in the civilian world. In the military, you have to mix the operational aspect and medical care."

Despite her professional success, Marchiano has stayed modest, and she acknowledges the people who’ve helped her along the way.

"I'm happy and excited about being named Air Force Flight Surgeon of the Year A lot of other people put in a lot of hard work. If it wasn't for their help, I wouldn't have won."

After having saved dozens of lives in dangerous, far-flung Afghanistan, Marchiano quietly sits at her desk after treating patients at the clinic here.

Like any other doctor, Marchiano said she continues to go to work every day for one simple reason -- to help people.