Back to Top Skip to main content

U.S. doctors save Italian patient hours from death

U.S. Air Force Capt. Melanie Gates, left, Capt. Nick McKenzie, and Capt. Richard Thorsted, all who are Special Operations Command Forward Northwest Africa ground surgical team members, gather for a photo at Nigerien Air Base 101, Niamey. The three doctors recently finished medical school and are serving their first deployment. They are deployed from Travis Air Force Base, California. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo) U.S. Air Force Capt. Melanie Gates, left, Capt. Nick McKenzie, and Capt. Richard Thorsted, all who are Special Operations Command Forward Northwest Africa ground surgical team members, gather for a photo at Nigerien Air Base 101, Niamey. The three doctors recently finished medical school and are serving their first deployment. They are deployed from Travis Air Force Base, California. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Global Health Engagement | Partners

NIAMEY, Niger — What began as a normal day eventually became an 18-hour sequence of events never to be forgotten.

Doctors and staff of Special Operations Command Forward (SOCFWD) – North and West Africa’s Ground Surgical Team (GST), a tenant unit assigned to Nigerien Air Base 101, Niger, were notified that an Italian woman recently suffered life-threatening injuries that required their attention.

The Italian woman was originally receiving care at a local hospital in Niamey when the GST was contacted by Italian military officials because the local hospital didn’t have the resources needed to save the patient’s life.

When U.S. Air Force doctors from SOCFWD – North and West Africa’s GST initially reviewed the computed tomography, or CT scans, they immediately knew there was more serious damage than what was reported as only a liver bleed by the local hospital.

“Upon reviewing the CT scans, there was also evidence of free air in the abdomen, concerning for a small bowel injury,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Melanie Gates, GST emergency medical physician. “When the patient arrived, her skin was white and she was in serious pain with minimal responsiveness. Her vitals were much worse than previously reported.”

The patient had a fever, a very high heart rate and low oxygen levels.

“First thoughts upon seeing patient … she wasn’t doing well,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Richard Thorsted, GST anesthesiologist. “She arrived to us in critical condition with a high fever.”

Thorsted and other GST members agreed that emergency surgery would be needed. Immediately, the team directed the 768th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron medical team to set up a walking blood bank. Additionally, they coordinated with various units and agencies from the 768th EABS, and Italian, French and German military forces to set up airlift and transportation to a larger medical facility in Senegal.

The patient is currently in good condition and recovering from her injuries in Naples, Italy, according to the GST staff.

“I’m especially thankful for the total team effort to do what is right, and not to let bureaucratic issues delay critical care,” said Air Force Capt. Nick McKenzie, GST general surgeon. “This was somebody’s mother, or wife, or daughter.”

McKenzie, Thorsted, and Gates, all of whom recently graduated from medical school and finished their residency programs, credit their success to a rigorous military training program they attended prior to deploying to Africa.

They all had run through clinical scenarios and situations to be able to work in austere conditions.

“Our training kicked in. We all knew our roles and worked well together,” Gates said. “I believe our training was crucial for our development as a team and ability to handle situations like this.”

Gates also said trust was crucial in the team’s ability to work in a stressful situation.

“I know that our ICU nurse, Capt. Jessica Bertke can trouble shoot any of our equipment and is the glue that holds our team together,” Gates explained. “I know that our anesthesiologist, Capt. Richard Thorsted, is meticulous at his job and is already steps ahead when problems arise. I know that our surgeon, Capt Nicholas McKenzie, has operated in much more austere conditions and would trust him to operate on my own family.”

Gates also mentioned that their scrub tech, Air Force Senior Airman Joshua Rios, has worked closely with McKenzie and can predict what he will need.

“I know that Master Sergeant Lou Campbell is always behind the scenes advocating not only for the patient and dealing with medivac logistics, but advocating for our team,” Gates said.

McKenzie said the support from the SOCFWD-NWA and air operating base staff in supporting his team’s decisions was one of the most crucial elements to his team’s success. He also thanked the Italian military doctor Valantina Di Nitto, who translated information regarding the patient into French, German, English, and Italian for the multinational military units at Air Base 101.

“My takeaway is personally knowing that we did something to help another human being,” Thorsted said. “There is an inner peace knowing you’ve done your best and you made an impact in someone’s life.”

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.     

You also may be interested in...

The simple – and complicated – task of shoveling snow

Article
2/5/2019
Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Seifridsberger shovels knee-deep snow to build a simulated hasty firing position during training exercise Ready Force Breach at Fort Drum, New York. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Andrew Carroll)

When in the throes of winter weather, there are ways to prepare for a successful, injury-free snow shoveling activity

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety | Reserve Health Readiness Program | Health Readiness | Physical Activity

Army Medicine joins forces with civilian hospitals to sustain medical readiness

Article
1/31/2019
Army Brig. Gen. Telita Crosland, RHC-Atlantic Commanding General, signs letter of commitment Jan. 18 recognizing the partnership between Army Medicine and Cooper University Health Care to provide advanced surgical trauma training allowing Army medical professionals to sustain their trauma skills by working alongside civilian counterparts at high-volume Level 1 trauma centers. Cooper joins the Oregon Health & Science University as one of the two trauma centers partnering with Army Medicine. (Courtesy photo by Cooper University Health Care )

The AMCT3 program addresses the 2017 NDAA directive for the Military Health System to establish partnerships to maintain trauma care competency

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Civil Military Medicine

Acute Flaccid Myelitis Case Reporting

Infographic
1/29/2019
Acute Flaccid Myelitis Case Reporting

This case highlights important clinical characteristics of acute flaccid myelitis and emphasizes the importance of including AFM in the differential diagnosis when evaluating active duty service members and Military Health System beneficiaries presenting with paralysis.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Cardiovascular disease-related medical evacuations

Infographic
1/29/2019
Cardiovascular disease-related medical evacuations

This descriptive analysis summarizes the demographic characteristics, counts, rates and temporal trends for Cardiovascular disease-related medical evacuations from the CENTCOM area of responsibility. In addition, the percentage of those evacuated who had received pre-deployment diagnoses indicating cardiovascular risk is summarized. Responses to ...

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Infographic
1/29/2019
HPV

At the time of this report, there were no published studies of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) incidence over time among active component U.S. military personnel. Examining the incidence rates of NAFLD and their temporal trends among active component U.S. military members can provide insights into the future burden of NAFLD on the MHS.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Transformation underway across the Military Health System

Article
1/29/2019
Thomas McCaffery, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, with Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director, Defense Health Agency, celebrated the Defense Health Agency's fifth anniversary on Oct. 1, 2018, by welcoming the first military hospitals and clinics transitioning to the DHA. This was first step for the MHS to emerge as a more integrated and efficient system of health and readiness. (MHS photo by Military Heath System Strategic Communications Division)

All of these changes – the Military Health System transformation, MHS GENESIS, TRICARE enhancements – are aimed at taking the DoD’s health enterprise to the next level

Recommended Content:

Access to Health Care | Health Readiness | TRICARE Health Program | MHS GENESIS | Military Hospitals and Clinics

Growing Air Force’s space medicine culture

Article
1/23/2019
Medical Airmen assigned to U.S. Air Force Space Command are charged with delivering care to the Airmen who launch, monitor and operate the Air Force’s satellite systems. As space continues to play an increasingly critical role in our nation’s defense, medical Airmen in AFSPC are also preparing for the future of space medicine. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The role of AFSPC medics to ensure space operators are medically ready to complete their mission

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

2019 TRICARE Winter Safety Kit

Infographic
1/22/2019
TRICARE Winter Safety Kit 2019

This infographic provides tips and information about staying safe and warm during a snow storm.

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety | Health Readiness | Preventive Health

A new year marks a new you

Article
1/18/2019
Navy Reserve Sailors assigned to Navy Operational Support Center, Phoenix perform a 1.5-mile run during the physical readiness test at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Drew Verbis)

Changes in lifestyle don’t have to be drastic to be effective

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Physical Activity

CJTH continues to provide superior care for U.S., coalition forces

Article
1/7/2019
A medical team transports a patient by a stretcher to Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Dec. 10, 2018. Before entering the hospital, patients are thoroughly assessed, administratively in-processed and checked for any explosive ordnance or weapons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kaylee Dubois)

With a 99.3-percent survival rate, the hospital staff have reason to be proud

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Military Hospitals and Clinics

Northstar Dustoff provides aeromedical evacuation in Kuwait

Article
1/4/2019
Army Soldiers assigned to the 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion, Minnesota Army National Guard, and the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team, Mississippi Army National Guard, pull a patient from a UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter during an aeromedical evacuation rehearsal at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Emily Finn)

Northstar Dustoff has completed more than 60 aeromedical evacuations since August 2018

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Langley surgical team goes 'purple'

Article
1/3/2019
A joint surgical team comprised of three separate branches assembled to perform an operation at U.S. Air Force Hospital Langley at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Consisting of a Navy surgeon, Air Force nurse and Army technician, the team performed a Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery to restore a patient’s sinus ventilation to normal function. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Samuel Eckholm)

A joint surgical team was organized to perform a functional endoscopic sinus surgery

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Military Hospitals and Clinics

Army hospital earns reputation as a top teaching institution

Article
1/2/2019
Army OB/GYN nurse residents train in the CRDAMC simulation lab. The OB/GYN Nurse Resident Program, only offered at CRDAMC, focuses on OB/GYN nursing skills that include childbearing, high-risk and complicated pregnancy, newborn assessment and care and family planning gynecology. (U.S. Army photo by Gloria Montgomery)

CRDAMC has been recognized by healthcare associations and educational institutions for exceptional achievements

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Military Hospitals and Clinics

MSMR Vol. 26 No. 1 - January 2019

Report
1/1/2019

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000–2017; Cardiovascular disease-related medical evacuations, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 1 October 2001– ...

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Combat medics improve readiness with individual critical task list training

Article
12/31/2018
A group of combat medics unload a casualty from a MEDEVAC helicopter during a recent emergency medical evacuation training exercise at the hospital’s helipad here as part of the combat medic’s individual critical task list training. (U.S. Army photo by Patricia Deal)

There is no substitution for being pushed around by the rotor wash of a helicopter

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 41

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing: Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.