Monday, July 08, 2013

Super senior airman saves lives

by Staff Sgt. Terri Paden
15th Wing Public Affairs

7/3/2013 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- Heroes are typically thought to be super human beings with extraordinary strength capable of leaping over tall buildings in a single bound, shooting fire out of their eyes and in some cases even flying; however, for two very fortunate women, their hero recently came in the form of a super senior airman deployed from the 15th Wing.

It was a typical day for Senior Airman Rainier Jeffrey as he rode to the Upolu Hospital in Samoa. As a medical technician deployed with the Navy out to sea in support of the humanitarian operation Pacific Partnership 13, it was Jeffrey's job to share medical knowledge with the auxiliary nurses at the village hospitals in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Canada, as well as provide medical assistance to the villagers. Acting in a dental technician capacity for this deployment, it was Jeffrey's job to in-process patients, check their vital signs and document pertinent medical information in their charts.

This particular day, the rain had deterred many of the locals from making the trek to the clinic so Jeffrey decided to busy himself training the local dental staff on proper patient care and documentation procedures.

He was eating his lunch when the day took an unexpected turn as he was summoned into the treatment room by one of the local auxiliary nurses to assist with an elderly patient in distress.

Her pulse was irregular, her breathing was shallow and her extremities were getting cold and clammy. Jeffrey sprang into action initiating manual chest compressions, instructing his counterpart on how to administer proper rescue breaths and inserting an intravenous fluids bag. The resuscitation was a success, and the patient became stable. With the absence of hot water to warm fluids, Jeffrey improvised by using an MRE heating packet to warm the IV, and covered the patient with blankets to keep her warm as they waited for the ambulance to arrive.

Believing the hard part was over, Jeffrey went to update the patient's family on her condition.
Moments later, he was approached by one of the auxiliary nurses with more shocking news. A patient had gone into labor and, without her midwife present or the help of a physician, he would have to deliver the baby by himself. A few big pushes later and Jeffrey had successfully made it through his first delivery. The midwife arrived just in time to finish afterbirth care and, surprisingly enough, help deliver the woman's second baby. It turned out the patient was pregnant with twins! But nevertheless, Jeffrey's work was done. He'd managed to deliver the first baby and keep the patient stable until trained help arrived.

"I feel like any armed forces medic in my position would have done the same thing," he said reflecting back on the day. "Springing into action is what we are all trained to do in a tactical setting regardless of rank or specialty. I enjoy being a medic and I definitely got an opportunity to do something that day that truly made me proud to be an Air Force medical technician."

Jeffrey, who has been in the Air Force for three years, said though he realizes he probably helped save lives that day, he doesn't consider himself a hero for doing what he was trained to do.

"My first thought was just to respond," he said. "At first I was drawing a blank because I was over thinking things, but as my hands started moving my training came back to me and I started remembering the right steps and proper medical procedures. Though I was in no way completely comfortable, the adrenaline kicked in and the knowledge started resurfacing as I needed it, and it became second nature in a matter of seconds."

Maj. Wanda Edwards, Jeffrey's supervisor, said she was not surprised by Jeffrey's actions when she'd heard about the day's events.

"He is not one to sit by and let others take care of things," she said of Jeffrey. "His compassion and dedication were evident by his swift actions and immediate response at the clinic."

The major said she knows all too well the fear, excitement and sense of responsibility that comes with having a critical patient, but Jeffrey conducted himself exactly as she would have in the same situation.

"Out of my three deployments, he is by far the best medical technician that I have had the pleasure to be deployed with," she said. "I am so proud of him, and his professionalism and leadership shines through every day. As medical responders, we never know what we will face and to know that I can trust our Airmen to not only respond appropriately, but exceed the expectations and respond as I would have."

Two saved lives and one baby later, Jeffrey recalls how what started out as a normal day ended up becoming anything but.

"After the shock of the event wears off, you realize that everything you did resulted in keeping someone alive," he said. "The sheer thought brings an overwhelming sense of happiness, elation and a sigh of relief gets sprinkled in there somewhere. It's a mass of mixed emotions and truly an indescribable feeling."

Face of Defense: Alaska Army National Guardsman on Track to West Point

By Army Sgt. Balinda O'Neal
Alaska National Guard

CAMP DENALI, Alaska, July 8, 2013 – As a high school dropout, Army Spc. David Huff has accomplished more than he ever expected in the past three and a half years.

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Alaska Army National Guard Spc. David Huff, a signal support systems specialist for the 297th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, runs during a physical training session at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, June 18, 2013. He will enter the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School as a cadet candidate this month. Alaska National Guard photo by Army Sgt. Edward Eagerton

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Upon completing the Alaska Military Youth Academy ChalleNGe Program, enlisting in the Alaska Army National Guard and graduating from the National Guard Patriot Academy, Huff is now bound for the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School and U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
After an altercation led to suspension at the end of his freshman year in high school, Huff was left six credits behind and with a diminishing grade point average.
“I had to make up those credits, and I had an attitude problem,” said Huff, 21, a signal support systems specialist for the 297th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, Alaska Army National Guard. “So I dropped out of high school and was accepted into the AMYA.”

The AMYA ChalleNGe Program is designed to intervene and reclaim the lives of Alaska’s at-risk youth and produce graduates with the skills to succeed as adults.

“I got angry really easily and let opportunities that I could have had go by the wayside under my own free-will and accord,” Huff said. “I did well at the AMYA but still left there dealing with some issues of immaturity.”

Two months after he talked to a recruiter, Huff enlisted in the Alaska Army National Guard and took advantage of another opportunity by attending the National Guard Patriot Academy.
While lack of funding closed this pilot program in January, the Patriot Academy offered qualified recruits the opportunity to finish high school and earn college credit while giving back to the community.

Two of Huff’s role models, including an instructor at the Patriot Academy, helped him refocus on long-term life objectives, said Army Brig. Gen. Mike Bridges, commander of the Alaska Army National Guard. They guided him toward “being successful and to really go for a diploma and look at other options,” he said.

“One of those other options was the potential to receive a National Guard nomination to West Point from the Alaska Army Guard,” Bridges said.

With no knowledge of West Point, Huff began researching the academy that has become synonymous with educating, training and inspiring many of the Army’s greatest leaders throughout the past 200 years.

“To see the people who have actually gone to West Point and to see the things they have done, [attending] is a goal worth aiming for,” Huff said. “The experience that you get there, the different people that influence you, it’s second to none.”

With thousands of students applying to West Point each year, it is an exceptional honor to be accepted for admission. After being denied admission twice, Huff was finally admitted into the West Point Preparatory School on his third attempt.

“I was taking college English, Trigonometry, and Chemistry, and they saw I was doing well,” Huff said. “I’m extremely grateful they recognized the academic and leadership potential in me because usually when they say ‘no’ the first time, it stays ‘No.’”

With roots in the Alaska Army National Guard, Huff will be able to share what he’s learned here and also expand on that, giving even more to the country with this new venture.

“We will feel bad about losing a great soldier from our ranks who has potential and is doing well, but the Alaska Army National Guard is sharing this young man and his potential with the nation through service,” Bridges said. “He is succeeding in a great way, which makes us very proud of being his host family unit.”

“For me to even have the opportunity to go to the prep school is a blessing in and of itself,” Huff said. “Through all this, I’ve learned that you really can’t go anywhere unless you have a goal in life.”

With a growing list of people Huff attributes to his success, there are two people that stand out -- his father, Darryl Huff, and retired Army Gen. Colin Powell.

“Apart from God, I couldn’t have made it this far without my dad,” Huff said. “It’s amazing what God has done for me, and my dad always knew I could do better and pushed me.”

Huff has nothing but accolades for Powell after reading his book, “My American Journey,” while attending the AMYA. Huff said his guiding principle in life came from the book: “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.”

“I changed my mindset and my history of getting in trouble into something positive,” Huff said.

“You get the right mindset, you get hungry, and you go after what you want.”

Huff will be leaving for the West Point Prep School this month.

Dyess leads JOAX, sets world record

by Airman 1st Class Damon Kasberg
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

7/8/2013 - POPE FIELD, N.C. -- Members from Team Dyess flew to Pope Field, N. C., June 19, 2013, in support of Joint Operational Access Exercise 13-03.

JOAX is a 12-day combined military training exercise designed to prepare Airmen and Soldiers to respond to worldwide crises and contingencies.

"This was the largest JOAX since September 2011," said Major Josh Leibel, 317th AG. "Servicemembers from all across the Air Force and Army came together to make the exercise possible."

Dyess supported JOAX with 20 C-130Js and 87 aircrew members, which delivered Soldiers and equipment to multiple drop zones.

"During the exercise the 317th AG set a world record for the largest C-130J formation," Leibel said. "Just as impressive as the 20-ship formation, our aircrew delivered 2,426 paratroopers and more than 140 tons of equipment to support the Army's training."

Not only did Dyess support the exercise with aircrew and aircraft, servicemembers on the ground worked nonstop to ensure operations went smoothly.

"I'm very proud of everything these guys did," said Senior Master Sgt. Rodney Jones, 317th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "They worked hard every day and every night to get the aircraft ready to go. I look forward to deploying with them."

"Once the engines started cranking up I got goose bumps," said Airman 1st Class Matthew Martin, 317th AMXS. "It was such a good feeling seeing the largest C-130J formation fly out knowing we all did this. It made all the hard work we put in worth it."

Exercises such as JOAX give Dyess servicemembers the unique opportunity to train as a team with other military branches.

"This training is very important," said Senior Airman Jamie Richardson-Granger, 317th AG loadmaster. "I've learned a lot since I've been out here. We actually get to see more of the real-world equipment we would drop operationally, things that aren't normally available to us at home station."

It's good to come out here and see how the Army and Air Force coordinate," he added. "Both branches worked together to ensure training requirements were met."

While JOAX plays a vital role in keeping U.S. military members trained and proficient, it's increasingly difficult to financially support these exercises under sequestration. However, Team Dyess was able to work through these constraints.

"About this time last year Dyess 317th was tasked as the lead unit for JOAX 13-03," Leibel said. "A few months ago it became apparent that under current government financial limitations that reaching the objective for both the Air Force and Army would require some creative options and divergence from the normal way of executing operations and exercises especially of this size.

"Through collaberation with the Army, our fiscal saving measures resulted in the exercise bed down cost of about $65,000 which is a 76.6 percent reduction and savings of around $215,000," he added.

27th SOAOS activates at Cannon

by Senior Airman Whitney Tucker
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

7/1/2013 - CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The 27th Special Operations Air Operations Squadron was activated during a ceremony at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., June 27.

Col. Buck Elton, 27th SOW commander, called for the formation of the 27th SOAOS in response to the 23rd Air Force directive. 

The directive called for a successful transition of command and control execution from the 623rd Air Operations Center to special operations wings and groups.

"Command and control is an Air Force core function and a special operations core mission," Elton said. "The timing was perfect -- we had the right leader, and the right people to build this squadron."

In a gesture deeply rooted in tradition, Elton unfurled, and passed the guidon to Lt. Col. Edward Espinoza, whose acceptance signified his assumption of command and a historical moment for Air Commandos of the 27th SOW. Before rendering their first salute to their new commander, members of the 27th SOAOS listened to Espinoza's address.

"I have always believed that to whom much is given, much is expected, and much is expected of us," Espinoza said. "Today, we've officially tied ourselves to the heritage and history of Air Force Special Operations Command and United States Special Operations Command -- organizations synonymous with high expectations, high risk and high payoff. We've been given an opportunity to do something unique, something worthwhile. I'm counting on all of you to help me successfully carry out our crucial mission."

The wing commander expressed his faith in Espinoza's ability to effectively lead his squadron, bringing credit upon himself, the 27th SOW and the Air Force as a whole.

"We rely on you to provide critical global situational awareness, enable swift and effective orders, streamline communication, manage, protect and develop the training range, and most importantly, to make sure we execute the missions that are tasked to us all," Elton said. "I hope each Airman appreciates the trust, faith and high expectation our nation places upon Colonel Espinoza as we appoint him to command the 27th SOAOS."

Fort Belvoir Hospital Aims to Redefine Military Healthcare

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

FORT BELVOIR, Va., July 8, 2013 – When the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital opened its doors in August 2011, it represented a long list of “firsts.” It was the nation’s newest, most technologically advanced military treatment facility, the first one to receive gold-level LEED “green” construction certification, and one of just two joint hospitals in the Military Health System.

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With a heavy focus on preventive care, the new Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Northern Virginia pairs patients and their families with teams of providers who make up their “medical home.” Here, Dr. Cathy Tieu and Barbara Venable gauge the reactions from LeAnn Redlinger’s patch test to diagnose skin allergies during a dermatology appointment, July 27, 2012. DOD photo by Tina Staffieri

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Less than two years later, the staff at the Defense Department’s newest treatment facility is implementing another first: an ambitious new strategy that its commander hopes will help redefine military healthcare.

One of the most striking things about the gleaming new hospital is that despite its 1.3-million-square foot footprint, it has only 120 inpatient beds. Most of the facility is built around 440 examination rooms and 55 clinics that concentrate on outpatient care and preventive medicine, Army Col. Chuck Callahan, the hospital commander, told American Forces Press Service.

“The outpatient arena is where healthcare takes place in 2013,” he said. “Good healthcare is focused on prevention, which means you don’t need to get hospitalized.”

With that goal in mind, the hospital staff is working to keep patients healthy and, when they need medical care, to make it the most positive experience possible.

This is the foundation of the new strategy Callahan began rolling out last year. Tapping the hospital staff and patients directly, he incorporated almost 700 of their suggestions into a plan designed to improve the care provided.

“This strategy we have embraced really belongs to the staff and patients of the organization, and we are now in the process of beginning to implement them,” Callahan said.

Early indications are positive, he said. Making appointments is easier than ever before. Parking is convenient. The facility itself is inviting. And most important of all, Callahan said, everything about the hospital operation is focused directly on patients and their families.

People who have tried to see a doctor when they are sick probably know the pitfalls of a reactionary healthcare system. Getting squeezed in for a same-day appointment can be difficult, at best. If a condition requires a visit with a specialist, that draws treatment out even longer and often requires multiple appointments.

“The notion of patient- and family-centered care means we look at the way care is delivered from the perspective of the patient, both individually and as a population,” Callahan said.  It’s a proactive approach that boils down to “‘What health care do you need and how do we provide it to you?’ rather than the opposite, ‘Here is what we have and sorry if it is not what you need,’” he said.

The centerpiece of this model is an ongoing relationship between patients and their providers.

Patients are assigned to a “medical home” -- a team of doctors, nurses and specialists who oversee their care. “This is a group that puts their arms around that group of patients and manages their health -- not just treats their disease,” Callahan said.

As a result, patients know who to call when they have health issues or questions. When they need to make an appointment, they can feel confident that they’ll get one, and be seen by providers who know their conditions and medical histories.

Patients with complex medical issues also have ready access to the “medical neighborhood” within the hospital, Callahan said. No longer do they need to schedule multiple visits with a series of specialists who may never communicate with each other. Instead, providers from across the “neighborhood” coordinate through medical home to provide interdisciplinary care.

“That’s all the providers, plus the patient and family, in the same room, talking through the treatment and management plan,” Callahan said. “It’s the model we are evolving as a hospital.”

The facility itself incorporates what Callahan called “evidence-based design” that supports healing. Design decisions were made to be therapeutic, incorporating natural light, outside views, healing gardens and pavilions inspired by nature: Eagle, River, Sunrise, Oak and Meadow.

Sections of the hospital are color-coded so visitors can quickly get their bearings. All in-patient rooms have just one bed, and a pull-out sofa that family members can sleep on. The design team tapped the Disney Corporation’s concepts of “on-stage” versus “off-stage” operations, relegating non-medical services to back hallways or non-prime hours.

While improving access to care when patients are sick and making the hospital experience as positive as possible are major goals of the new strategy, a foundation of the medical home concept is taking care of patients when they are healthy, Callahan said.

Instead of waiting for patients to call, he said, providers reach out to initiate required tests and procedures. They also rely heavily on social media and a secure Internet-based messaging system to answer patients’ health-related questions and provide healthcare information aimed at promoting health and well-being.

“The focus is on managing the patients so they get what they need and what they don’t even know that they need,” Callahan said. “It’s not just a matter of ‘What are you here for today?’

The goal is to keep you out of the hospital and keep you healthy. That’s much better than waiting until you are sick.”

Making these investments up front changes the paradigm in delivering healthcare, creating healthier beneficiaries and improving their quality of life, Callahan said.

As the Defense Department struggles with tough budget choices amidst skyrocketing medical costs, this proactive approach makes financial sense, he added.

“Treatment of disease is almost always more expensive than screening for and preventing disease.
Almost always,” Callahan said. “So we are making the investment up front. As we move toward health and well-being, we are not only providing better healthcare to our beneficiaries. We are also going a long way toward saving healthcare costs in the long run.”

Callahan said he expects the new strategy to be fully in place within the next five years, but emphasized that he doesn’t anticipate a point where the staff will ever fully declare “mission accomplished.”

“Performance improvement is a journey. It is not a destination,” he said “Getting better as an organization is a journey, so we are going to continue to evolve our strategy to adapt to healthcare changes and better ways to provide for our patients.

“So there is never going to be a point of ‘arriving,’” he said. “In terms of healthcare, there will always be traveling.”

AF chaplain, NASCAR team to help service members

by Airman 1st Class Ashlin Federick
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

7/8/2013 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (AFNS)  -- On April 27, 2012, Chaplain (Col.) Steven West went to Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va., to speak about ministry; he left with a plan to change the world.

He left his office as the chaplain for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to meet with Dell Hamilton, a partner of Hamilton Means Racing LLC. Hamilton owns a team and car in NASCAR and helps provide faith-based initiatives at the races.

Hamilton and West shared a vision of linking America to verified organizations that provide needed support to active duty, guard, reserve, veterans and their families. Motivated by this goal, they co-founded the Support Military Foundation.

SMF helps charitable organizations maximize their abilities to assist the military.

"Our main purpose isn't to actually take care of a group," said West. "We are the ones overseeing to make sure the military members receive the assistance they need. This is led by military members to better serve the people."

West has seen all aspects of the military. He has been in the guard, the reserves and on active duty as both enlisted and officer. He enjoys educating business leaders about the military.

"I was able to reach out to businesses and help them understand the military and how SMF helps," said West.

Kathleen Frantz, Katy's Goodness proprietor, said SMF works with organizations to provide a gateway and validations to ensure that veteran support organizations are doing what they say.

"SMF becomes a go-to for people who want to learn more about providing help to the military and veteran communities with organizations that can be trusted," said Frantz.

SMF's main goals are to give Americans a place to find quality military support organizations, a method to get involved through social networks and a cause to rally around through the "Behind the Camo" awareness and involvement program.

"Our 'Behind the Camo' program is designed to be the 'Pink' (breast cancer awareness) of the military," said Hamilton. "In other words, if you wear our 'Camo' we want you to know it reflects your support of the military."

Hamilton said West has taught him more about the military in the last year than he has learned in his entire life. He is impressed by West's dedication to the SMF.

"My father and uncles were all in the Korean War," said Hamilton. "I have a deep love for the military and know they are why I have my freedom."

Frantz said the SMF is a continuation of West's life's work and service he has already provided.

"West is an educated, experienced pastor that has spent a large portion of his life dedicated to serving our country," said Frantz. "He also serves to inspire, support and make a difference to many of our troops in times of difficulty, strength and awareness."

Hamilton said he and West have a unique opportunity to use NASCAR to help get their message out to the public.

"I have been involved in NASCAR for eight years," said Hamilton. "NASCAR boasts some of the most patriotic fans you will ever find and that is why we chose to use NASCAR as our platform to promote our 'Behind the Camo' program."