Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Army hospital powers through record-breaking winter storms

A military medical center covered in snow Brooke Army Medical Center endures a deluge of snowfall at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Feb. 18, 2021. Services at BAMC were limited for several days during two record-setting winter storms. (Courtesy of Brooke Army Medical Center)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Readiness Capabilities

With record-cold temperatures and potential power outages looming in South Central Texas last week, Brooke Army Medical Center immediately launched into action to ensure continuity of patient care despite the impending storms.

With safety at the forefront and to conserve resources, BAMC first delayed all non-urgent medical appointments and procedures to ensure emergency services and trauma support to the city remained unaffected. This measure enabled patients and non-emergency-essential staff to stay off icy roads and safely at home.

“As a Level I Trauma Center, it is vital that we maintain our critical care mission and support to our community partners, while ensuring the safety and well-being of our service members, patients and staff,” said BAMC Commanding Army General Brig. Gen. Shan K. Bagby.

To ensure continuity of care, BAMC’s healthcare professionals stayed for hours past their shifts, in some cases overnight, until icy roads thawed and personnel relieving them could safely travel to the hospital.

Many staff members went above and beyond, pitching in to replenish supplies and aid with bed coordination for staff needing to stay overnight. In one case, nursing supervisor Michelle Garrish spent three nights in the hospital to help cover shifts, while Army Staff Sgt. Russell Johnson offered to pick up staff who were unable to drive in. Air Force 1st Lt. Cruz Williamson stayed three hours past her shift, with another three hours spent driving to her house, which was without electricity. Still, she assured her supervisor she would just take a quick nap in case she needed to come back to work.

These are just a few examples of the many contributions over the past week, noted Army Lt. Col. Jody Brown, deputy commander for inpatient services. I am enthusiastically grateful to work with this outstanding team of professionals,” she said. “The communication and unity of effort across the hospital was superb and a testament to the team’s training and professionalism.”

With the ongoing below-freezing temperatures and intermittent snow and ice, BAMC also temporarily closed outlying clinic services for the week to include COVID screening and testing and vaccine administration.

“We made some difficult decisions with safety at the forefront,” Bagby said.

Additionally, at the request of CPS Energy and as part of Joint Base San Antonio’s city support, BAMC transitioned to generator power for close to 48 hours earlier this week to aid the community’s power conservation efforts. The city’s power reached critical levels this week due to the increased demand on the system, spurring many planned rolling power outages across the region to conserve power.

“BAMC was well-prepared to provide this community support,” said Army Col. Michael Wirt, BAMC deputy commanding officer. “About a year ago, BAMC completed an extensive upgrade to the central energy plant, bringing the latest power technology to the facility. Additionally, BAMC personnel train to respond to power outages, both planned and unplanned, throughout the year to ensure their readiness for a real-world event.”

The power transition, which was transparent to patients, did not impact BAMC’s inpatient care mission or support of the city’s trauma mission. Alongside University Hospital, BAMC is one of two Level I Trauma Centers in the region, providing support across a 26,000-square-mile, 22-county expanse. 

“We have an active and long-standing partnership with the community, which enables us to act as a cohesive, efficient system in times of crisis,” said Air Force Col. Patrick Osborn, deputy commander for surgical services. “I am deeply impressed with the BAMC team’s contributions as well as the incredible efforts of our emergency services personnel across the city.”

BAMC’s ongoing training and recent response to the pandemic were key factors in the hospital’s rapid and successful response to the weather this week, Bagby noted.

“Over the past year, we have been leveraging virtual health, telework and operational flexibility with great success,” he said. “Our training and experience were huge contributors in our ability to respond quickly, calmly and with expertise over the past week. I am incredibly proud of our staff and their determination to put our patients first in all that we do.”

Staff are not the only ones well-versed in continually evolving conditions, Bagby added. “Our patients have also exhibited resilience, support and understanding, not just over the past week, but throughout the entire year.”

With warmer weather anticipated this weekend, BAMC will resume services and continue its COVID response of screening and testing and vaccinating eligible phase 1b personnel next week.

As for the staff, the weather event will mark another challenge surmounted in an already difficult year.

“I am so proud and grateful for the way our people rise to this and every occasion,” said Air Force Col. Heather Yun, deputy commander for medical services. “Every one of our teammates has been personally affected by the storm, but nevertheless show so much compassion, empathy, diligence and professionalism. We will all have stories to tell after this week, and we will be telling stories of grit, care and an incredible community that rose to yet another remarkable occasion.”

You also may be interested in...

MHS Minute May 2021

Video
5/28/2021
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

In this month's MHS Minute, the DHA's commitment to transforming military health continues. The DHA officially established the Tidewater market in SE Virginia, serving over 200,000 patients. The MHS is standing up 19 markets like Tidewater to allow healthcare providers to better meet the needs of their patients by improving coordination between facilities in the area.

Recommended Content:

Military Health System Transformation | MHS GENESIS | Health Readiness

MHS Minute September 2018

Video
9/21/2018
MHS Minute September 2018

Interested in hearing about some exciting events that took place around the Military Health System last month? Tune in to the MHS Minute to learn more!

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Patriot Warrior 2017 - Moulage

Video
10/5/2017
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Rose Jane Schoenwandt, 349th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, California, and Staff Sgt. Caleb Boles, 445th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, discuss the importance of moulage during Patriot Warrior.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Rose Jane Schoenwandt, 349th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, California, and Staff Sgt. Caleb Boles, 445th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, discuss the importance of moulage during Patriot Warrior.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

USNS Mercy: Deployable Medical Center

Video
4/11/2017
U.S. Navy Sailors and Military Sealift Command civilian mariners explain the mission of the USNS Mercy and its capabilities.

U.S. Navy Sailors and Military Sealift Command civilian mariners explain the mission of the USNS Mercy and its capabilities.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Access to Health Care

Trauma Innovations

Video
3/23/2017
Hemorrhage is responsible for 91.5 percent of potentially survivable battlefield deaths. From 2001 to 2011, an estimated 24 percent of combat deaths occurred before patients reached a treatment facility; the major cause of death was blood loss. Battlefield trauma innovations like the occlusion balloon catheter and freeze-dried plasma will enhance the Joint Forces' current capabilities.

Hemorrhage is responsible for 91.5 percent of potentially survivable battlefield deaths. From 2001 to 2011, an estimated 24 percent of combat deaths occurred before patients reached a treatment facility; the major cause of death was blood loss. Battlefield trauma innovations like the occlusion balloon catheter and freeze-dried plasma will enhance the Joint Forces' current capabilities.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Air Force Nurse Key Asset to Army Medevac

Video
3/22/2017
U.S. Air Force Maj. Sandra Nestor, tactical critical care evacuation team nurse, is assigned to the 3rd Platoon, C Company, 2-149 General Support Aviation Battalion Medevac. Medevac teams specialize in moving and treating U.S. and coalition forces who are injured and risk dying without immediate emergency care.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Sandra Nestor, tactical critical care evacuation team nurse, is assigned to the 3rd Platoon, C Company, 2-149 General Support Aviation Battalion Medevac. Medevac teams specialize in moving and treating U.S. and coalition forces who are injured and risk dying without immediate emergency care.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Ophthalmology Medical Readiness Training Exercise

Video
3/7/2017
The Ophthalmology Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE) team is comprised of 26 U.S. military personnel and several host nation physicians who have partnered together to train medical teams in preparation for deployment. During the MEDRETE, the teams are able to improve the eyesight of more than 250 Panamanian patients during the two-week training exercise. The goal is to provide medical care that benefits the people of Panama, while building relationships with the accompanying Panamanian medical professionals.

The Ophthalmology Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE) team is comprised of 26 U.S. military personnel and several host nation physicians who have partnered together to train medical teams in preparation for deployment. During the MEDRETE, the teams are able to improve the eyesight of more than 250 Panamanian patients during the two-week training exercise. The goal is to provide medical care that benefits the people of Panama, while building relationships with the accompanying Panamanian medical professionals.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Vision Loss

Exercise Immediate Response 16

Video
1/13/2017
Soldiers and Airmen practice combat trauma care with allied and partner nation medical service members at Cerklje ob Krki, Slovenia, as part of exercise Immediate Response.

Soldiers and Airmen practice combat trauma care with allied and partner nation medical service members at Cerklje ob Krki, Slovenia, as part of exercise Immediate Response.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Global Health Engagement

Any clime and place: Sailors bring hospital knowledge to the field

Video
5/19/2016
Sailors with 2nd Medical Battalion got out of their comfort zone and conducted a week-long training exercise at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The aim of the training is to teach Sailors the basic skillset and gear familiarization of shock trauma platoon in a deployed environment.

Sailors with 2nd Medical Battalion got out of their comfort zone and conducted a week-long training exercise known as a Health Service Augmentation Program at Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 18-22, 2016.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Racing to save lives at Steel Knight

Video
12/28/2015
Hospital corpsmen and Marines check a simulated casualty and remove their body armor during Exercise Steel Night’s mass casualty drill at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Dec. 12, 2015. The drill tested the 1st Marine Division’s ability to react to a large influx of injuries and wounds from battling the enemy. Steel Knight provides tough, realistic training for the Marines and sailors of 1st Marine Division.

Corpsmen and Marines rehearsed life-saving skills during Exercise Steel Knight’s mass casualty drill, Dec. 12, 2015. Steel Knight provides tough, realistic training for the Marines and sailors of 1st Marine Division.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Global Medic 2015

Video
10/28/2015
Global Medic 2015

U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and British Army Reserve Soldiers participate in one of the largest medical exercises of its kind.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness
Showing results 1 - 11 Page 1 of 1

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.