39th MDG provides residents with emergency services
By Senior Airman William A. O'Brien, 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 15, 2011
INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Although Incirlik's medical clinic does not operate an emergency room, the 39th Medical Group ambulance services aids in ensuring around-the-clock care is provided to all base residents.
"Ambulance services provides the same basic emergency medical technician service that you could expect anywhere in the states," said Tech. Sgt. Sergio Norat, 39th MDG NCO in charge of ambulance services. "We are also able to provide advanced life support. If one of the physicians here determines we need advanced life support, like if someone was having a heart attack or in cardiac arrest, in that case, the physician comes with us to the hospital."
In an emergency, ambulance services medics quickly transport residents downtown where they may receive care at one of two local hospitals.
"We have two hospitals we take patients to. There's Acibadem, which is about seven miles. Acibadem is only a couple years old and everything is state of the art. There, they have surgical capabilities for every specialty. It's close and provides the same level of care you would get in the United States and in some cases, better.
"The other hospital near us is Metro Park. It is a little farther away; it's about 15 miles away. It is also a brand new hospital. It has all of the specialties anyone would need," said Norat.
Once a patient arrives downtown, the ambulance services staff relays to the patient liaison what is happening with the patient and what has been done to help him or her up to that point. This information is passed on to the medical staff assisting that patient and allows for the care to transition smoothly to the local staff.
The patient liaison is a critical asset to both the patient and medical facility to ensure precise communication between patient and caregiver.
"We talk to the patient liaison who knows English and they gather all the information from us and translate it to the doctors," said Airman 1st Class Balaji Bhattar, 39th MDG ambulance services medical technician. "It works well because the liaisons speak English, and the doctors sometimes know English and pick up on the medical terminology."
Because of the nature of a medical technician's job and the likelihood of needing to take a patient off base at a moment's notice, the techs do not wear the Airman Battle Uniform
"If we pick up a patient in housing who is seriously injured or ill and we need to rush them down town, we don't have time to change our clothes, so we came up with this, a uniform that looks professional that we can wear on base or off base," said Norat. "It has to be clean and serviceable."
To get the patients downtown in an ambulance, a technician drives while others attend to the needs of the patient in the back of the ambulance. Operating an ambulance, a government-owned vehicle, requires special training.
"A driver must have a GOV license, as well as specific training on the ambulances," said Norat. "Providing care in the back of an ambulance can be very bumpy and very difficult because it's hard to provide care while you're bumping around and going around turns. It's a unique challenge."
While ambulance services medical technicians and medical clinic technicians are in the same career field and carry a "4N" designator with their Air Force specialty code, ambulance services provides a unique service to base residents.
"The first thing every 4N goes through is EMT training," said Norat. "All of us could work in the back of an ambulance if we need to. We can work in any clinic, labor and delivery, the (intensive care unit), pediatrics, family practice, immunizations ... For us it just depends on which section you're sent to."
The ambulance services staff also aids in ensuring those authorized use of the base's medical facilities has access to care at all hours.
Through phone access to a doctor, the 39th MDG can provide ceaseless access to a doctor's advice. However, speaking to the doctor is limited to special circumstances determined by ambulance services staff. That way the patient can receive medical advice on their ailments and if determined necessary by the doctor, they can be seen.
"The bottom line is they have 24-hour access," said Norat. But "that isn't to say we offer 24 hour clinic, people cannot just show up here."
Regardless of the situation or type of care needed, ambulance services plays a crucial role in all emergencies across the base.