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Air Force surgical team ready for duty


Release Date: 3/11/2004

by Tech. Sgt. William J. Seabrook Jr. 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

3/11/2004 - MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan (AFPN) -- It may seem like a small medical team to some, but people here need not worry about their emergency surgical needs. The five-person U.S. Air Force surgical team, an operational surgical component of the 376th Expeditionary Medical Group, is ready for duty.

The team is equipped to treat emergencies and stabilizes patients for transfer to a more advanced medical facility. People here will still receive medical care comparable to what they would get in the United States, said Capt. (Dr.) Andre Graham, the team's surgeon. "We provide emergency medical services to all personnel and prepare them for transport," Dr. Graham said. "We're also a fully functional trauma unit and ready to handle any contingency."

While the team is small, they are very experienced, said Maj. Delia Zorrilla, head nurse for the team.

"All members of this team, with the exception of Captain Graham, come from Lackland Air Force Base, (Texas), where we (are) members of Wilford Hall [Medical Center] the Air Force's only Level 1 trauma center," she said. "Captain Graham transferred here from Iraq, where he treated a lot of cases."

Not only did Dr. Graham serve in Iraq but he also has another, more personal reason to be excited about serving here.

"When I was an intern in New York, I treated people injured on 9-11 at the World Trade Center," he said. "Coming here is sort of like completing the circle and finishing the work I started on that fateful day."

The team's main goal is to continue to upgrade the services they can provide.

"We'll be establishing standards and upgrading equipment as well as making future additions possible," Dr. Graham said. "We'll constantly look for ways to improve our services while also being available to help out at the regular clinic."

The team's main mission is to be ready to treat whatever medical situation may arise while they're here.

"We certainly hope nothing bad happens to anybody while we're here, but we want everybody to understand and feel confident in the fact if something medically related was to happen to them we're here and we'll take care of them," said Lt. Col. Deborah Cleary, surgical team chief and nurse anesthetist.

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