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Airmen EMTs are lifesavers in Afghanistan

by Staff Sgt. Carlos Diaz
U.S. Central Command Air Forces Public Affairs


4/25/2007 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNEWS) -- You need heart, desire and passion for this career field," said Staff Sgt. Melissa Martinez an emergency medical technician.

An EMT is a responder trained to provide emergency medical services to the critically ill and injured.

"Anyone can do this job; however, attention to detail is vital in our business because lives are at stake," the seven-year Air Force member said.

Sergeant Martinez and her counterpart, Staff Sgt. Joseph Archangel, are two of several EMTs assigned to Task Force Med at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital in Bagram Air Base.

Both NCOs share similar reasons for becoming EMTs.

"My grandfather was a doctor, and my aunts and uncles were also in the medical career field, so growing up I always wanted to help people," said Sergeant Archangel, who served in the Army as a medic before joining the Air Force.

Sergeant Martinez's interest in the job was received with plenty of encouragement from family and friends.

"I had an interest in helping people, too," she said, "and a lot of people told me I'd do well in it. I also had a lot of medical professionals help me and they pushed me to pursue this career field."

Both EMTs have deployed before. Sergeant Archangel is on his third deployment, while Sergeant Martinez is on her second. However, this is her first deployment as an EMT. She used to be a security forces Airman.

Both of them are assigned to the 60th Medical Operations Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. and have received plenty of training in preparation for their deployment. That training, however, doesn't end at the home base.

To keep their skills sharp, EMTs participate in scenario-based exercises. One of those particular exercises is an ambulance run. It tests the EMTs abilities to respond rapidly, provide medical care and simulate real-life situations by carrying, loading and transporting the "patient."

Since deployed, the EMTs got to put their world-class training to the test during an unexpected, intense moment.

Sergeants Archangel and Martinez agreed that the Feb. 27 suicide bomber's attack outside of Bagram's perimeter gate was a surreal scene.

According to both EMTs, the scene resembled a Hollywood war movie set.

"I don't think I'll ever forget what it was like being one of the first medics to respond to the scene," Sergeant Archangel said.

"I first set all of my feelings to the side," said Sergeant Martinez. "I tried not to feel anything because that's how people end up with stress; they wind up holding on to it."

"I always say, 'slow is fast,' meaning that you need to take your time to ensure the best medical care possible is being provided in the most expeditious manner," she explained.

"All of the training just came back to me automatically," Sergeant Archangel said in response to his quick reaction. "It was very interesting how I didn't have to think about what I had to do, I just did it."

That type of thinking, steadfast approach and work ethic is what keeps these EMTs honing their craft.

"I enjoy taking care of people," Sergeant Martinez said. "With that task at hand, safety always stays in the back of our mind."

Sergeant Archangel notes that one of the best parts of his job is taking novice EMTs under his wing.

"I really enjoy passing along a part of me," he said. "It's very rewarding for me to see somebody do something right. It makes you feel good inside."



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