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Joint Army-Air Force-Navy medical partnership saves lives downrange

Airmen work with members of the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation team to save the life of a NATO troop at the Craig Joint-Theater Hospital on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Rau) Airmen work with members of the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation team to save the life of a NATO troop at the Craig Joint-Theater Hospital on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Rau)

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JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas — At any given time, there are more than 100 medics deployed worldwide from the 59th Medical Wing, executing a Joint U.S. mission in support of global operations. 

Air Force personnel assigned to Brooke Army Medical Center, the Department of Defense's only level 1 trauma center, are the core for trauma care readiness at the Role 3 facility, Craig Joint Theater Hospital in Bagram, Afghanistan.

Additionally, a close partnership with Army and Navy colleagues at home station extends to the deployed environment where tri-Service team members from BAMC are deployed throughout the trauma system delivering high quality trauma care.

In the deployed environment, the term “role” is used to describe the level of medical support based on capabilities and resources.

A Role 3 facility delivers a definitive level of care, provides full surgical repairs, and has the ability to hold patients until they are stable for medical evacuation.

Serving as the first Joint Trauma System chief under the Defense Health Agency governance, Air Force Col. (Dr.) Stacy Shackelford, has deployed to Craig Joint Theater Hospital her last four rotations and was responsible for coordinating trauma care delivery for multiple Role 2 and 3 surgical facilities throughout Afghanistan. 

“There isn’t an Air Force, Army or Navy type of medical care,” Shackelford said. “Delivering care along the continuum and passing it along from a Navy forward surgical team to an Army MEDEVAC to an Air Force surgical hospital, it’s all interrelated.”   

The Joint Trauma System collects data on all combat causalities to analyze and incorporate back into clinical practice guidelines, the foundation for training service members. 

Medical personnel with varying surgical experience are deployed across the world, all equipped with pre-deployment and simulated training but not all having first-hand experience.

BAMC is comprised of Army, Air Force and Navy members working side-by-side providing outstanding care to wounded service members and the San Antonio community at large.

“The gap between treating civilian trauma patients and combat-related trauma patients can be narrowed by military-specific simulation training prior to deployment,” Shackelford said.      

The Bagram Role 3 is made up of more than 180 service members with over a third coming from the 59th MDW, extending the highest level of trusted care to the combatant command.

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