by Airman 1st Class Ryan Conroy
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
3/5/2015 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Question, scrub, wash, set, prep, drape, brief, cut, stitch and clean up.
It sounds simple when general surgery is broken down into several verbs,
but the truth is, there's a group of Airmen with a particular set of
skills and decades of education in charge of ensuring the safety,
comfort and health of the patients of the base populace.
The Airmen are a dedicated surgical team of the 31st Surgical Operations
Squadron who lead the charge to provide first-rate surgical healthcare
"We have to offer the best healthcare possible so our Airmen can
complete the mission," said Tech. Sgt. Eugenia Harrison, 31 SGC surgical
The SGC operates on a variety of different routine surgeries here, such
as: Cesarean-sections, vasectomies, gall bladder removal, benign mass
removal, orthopedics and biopsies for cancer. To handle these varied
tasks, a surgical team operates like a professional sports team - each
player contributes a specific role.
The surgeon acts as the quarterback of the team. They know the
procedures and instruct their team on how to perform the surgery. While
they are important, they must depend on their teammates for a successful
The roster changes depending on the surgery and the teammates can
include: A certified registered nurse anesthetist, a surgical
technician, an operating room nurse and a general surgery physician
A CRNA provides anesthesia care for surgeries to ensure patients are
comfortable and under sedation for the duration of the procedure. If an
anesthetist were to make a mistake, there are serious consequences of
death or extreme pain, said Capt. Nicholas Bancroft, 31 SGC CRNA.
"When I do my job, I'm making a lot of decisions based on a patient's
medical and health history," said Bancroft. "I have to figure out how
their history will affect what kind of anesthetic I give them and what
they need to be pain free."
The surgical technician, and the only enlisted Service member in the
operation room, has several different jobs before and after surgery. The
technician must review the case before surgery, make sure all tools
used are available and sterile and assist with the surgery if necessary.
"A surgical technician tries to make the surgeon's job easier in any way
possible," said Senior Airman Sylvia Coon, 31st SGC surgical
technician. "We have to be on our game in the operating room and be
ready to give the surgeon anything they need."
An OR nurse is responsible for providing professional nursing care to
patients undergoing surgery, conducting post and preoperative visits
with patients. An OR nurse will also chart patient information,
specimens, medication, implants and fill out the nurse notes of the
patient's chart during and after a surgery.
The surgical team has the medical experience and unequivocal teamwork to
take a complicated in-depth process and turn it into simple health care
for Team Aviano.
"When our Airmen come in injured, it's a good feeling knowing I can help
out. I know this is how I fit into the overall mission - keeping our
guys safe, comfortable and whole," said Bancroft.