Dirty jobs: Flight medic
US Army, April 17, 2014 - CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea by Sgt 1st Class Vincent Abril, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade - Somewhere in the world, a patient is in need of vital medical attention. They may not have time to wait for an ambulance to be driven to their location due to time playing a huge factor between life and death.
Such emergencies require quick responses and, rest assured, there are people standing by to answer that call.
Sgt. Lisa A. Rodriguez, a flight medic stationed in South Korea, is one of those people. She serves her fellow Soldiers in need on the battlefield and at home. Similar to her civilian counterparts, Rodriguez utilizes a helicopter to treat and transport the injured. In her case, she is part of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew. This aircraft is equipped with special crew and equipment ready to carry out rapid medical responses.
“It’s our job to get a patient from the point of injury to the hospital within that golden hour,” said Rodriguez. “We stabilize them along the way until we can get them into the hands of a doctor.”
Rodriguez, a seven-year Army veteran currently serving with Company C, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, and native of Raeford, N.C., wears many hats as a flight medic.
“Although I’m the primary medic on board our aircraft, I also perform crew duties alongside the crew chiefs who maintain the aircraft,” Rodriguez said.
Those duties include assisting her team and ensuring safe movement of the helicopter which requiring a constant visual of airspace during flights and landings.
Aside from her crew duties, Rodriguez must continuously train to maintain her medical certifications, which include Basic Life Support, Trauma Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, Emergency Medical Services and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support to name a few. Rodriguez is required to re-certify annually and bi-annually, in the end, it’s all worth it to her.
“Coming to work every day is like a love affair. I enjoy my job, and I enjoy training for my job,” said Rodriguez. “When you love what you do, you strive to do it even better.”
While she loves her job, Rodriguez says there are some parts of the job that are less desirable.
“The worst part of this job is the blood,” said Rodriguez. “It doesn’t bother me, but it does get messy and it gets everywhere so there is a lot of cleanup involved.”
Rodriguez also explained that treating children is also an emotionally difficult aspect that flight medics deal with.
As difficult as this job may sound, Rodriguez and her counterparts are very enthusiastic to carry out their mission with the only combat aviation brigade on the peninsula.
If you see a yellow-striped UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with the red cross symbol flying by, it just might be Rodriquez and her team of lifesavers.
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2nd CAB 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade US Army Aviation
Sikorsky HH-60M Black Hawk