FORT POLK, La. –
Sgt. Elvin Vann, respiratory specialist at Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital returned from a two month Individual Critical Task List training opportunity at Brooke Army Medical Center, Joint Base San Antonio -Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
A respiratory specialist is an advanced level position primarily responsible for helping with and maintaining the airway, according to goarmy.com. Respiratory specialists test pulmonary function, provide oxygen therapies, administer medications, aerosol therapies and mechanical ventilation.
Vann said this was a win-win for both BJACH and BAMC.
“BAMC was hit pretty hard with COVID-19 cases, so I was able to go there to complete my ICTLs and help them out,” he said. “They needed the extra manpower and I needed the hands on experience to complete my annual training requirements.”
Vann said because there is no intensive care unit at BJACH he doesn’t get to see the same types of patients that they get a BAMC.
BAMC is the sole Level I Trauma Center within the Military Health System, serving as the premier medical readiness training platform for both the Army and the Air Force, according to their website. With 4,000 military and civilian trauma patients and 80,000 emergency department visits annually at BAMC, Vann said it was a great opportunity to do the respiratory work he doesn’t get to do at BJACH.
“I hit the ground running the second I got there,” he said. “I started working in the wards with post-operative and COVID-19 patients. I got to develop my interpersonal skills in their inpatient clinics.”
Vann said it was rewarding watching people progressively get better, getting out of the hospital and going home.
“At BAMC I was able to work in the emergency room and assist with trauma cases,” he said. “They have a fast paced emergency department with multiple trauma cases daily. At one point they had to open a man’s chest and were massaging his heart to manually keep them alive, I was giving him his air. The man survived the accident and I was proud I was able to help him.”
Vann said he was able to complete everything on his ICTL minus newborn intensive care cases.
“This experience made me hungry for more. It made me want to learn and do more going forward,” he said. “It was so rewarding helping patients, seeing them through their treatment, reassuring them and being able to do the full scope of my job. The opportunity at BAMC made me want to be a better respiratory therapist.”
Sgt. Conner Hayes, non-commissioned officer in charge of the respiratory department at BJACH, is always looking for additional training opportunities for his Soldiers.
“I started looking for training opportunities shortly after I arrived to BJACH,” he said. “We all want to stay ahead of our training and keep our skills sharp and up-to-date.”
Hayes said, Vann went to BAMC first because he was assigned to BJACH the longest.
“Cpl. Giovani Gonzalez and I will go to BAMC next,” he said. “We have great opportunities here that respiratory specialists assigned to field hospitals don’t have, but in order to be our best we need to do training at bigger military treatment facilities.”
Hayes hopes this program outlives his time at BJACH for future generations of respiratory specialists.
Command Sergeant Major Shavonda Devereaux said opportunities like this are important to Soldiers.
“It enables them to refine and work on those medical skills that they would not necessarily get at BJACH,” she said. “ICTLs do require some training and validation in fixed facilities but also in a field environment. If and when Soldiers are called upon to deploy they must be able to execute their war time skills and mission.”
Devereaux said it’s important that all of the Soldiers at BJACH, enlisted or officer, are capable and ready to execute the mission, at all times.
“Partnerships, like this with BAMC and our regional healthcare partners are important,” she said. “It allows us to build community relations and provides our Soldiers with a glimpse of what other MTFs and civilian counterparts are doing in their chosen profession.”
Devereaux said highly trained and motivated Soldiers require a passion for what they do and the uniforms they wear.
“Sgt. Vann has returned with newly refined skills,” she said. “He can now pass along this knowledge to the other Soldiers in his section. This will help our facility and our organization thrive and grown.”
Editor’s Note: Sgt. Vann returned from BAMC on Sept. 29, 2021, but we held the story until now to highlight his efforts during Respiratory Health Week (Oct. 24-30). At BJACH we want to recognize the hard work and dedication of our military and civilian respiratory specialists. Each day they provide the best for our patients and our organization.