Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy --
Long days, great experiences and once in a lifetime are just a few ways to summarize the 132d Wing Medical Group’s (MDG) trip to Naval Air Station (NAS) Sigonella, Sicily, Italy. 40 members of the MDG were part of a temporary deployment (TDY) to the United States Naval Hospital (USNH) located on NAS Sigonella. While there, they were tasked to implement themselves into daily operations with the Navy, as well as other services. Some of the areas covered were the emergency department, multi-service ward, dental, administration, public health, bio environmental engineering (BEE), the flight line clinic and many others.
The purpose of this trip was to complete medical facility (MFAC) annual training, a program sponsored by the Air National Guard Surgeon General’s office.
“This provides us with an opportunity to come in to a medical treatment facility and augment their resources across their operations,” said Col. Chad Hynnek, commander of the 132d Wing MDG.
Hynnek said the best thing was getting to complete the required training as well as jumping into hospital operations.
Many others feel the same way, one being Tech. Sgt. Anna Rietveld, a dental technician.
“We’ve actually got to experience quite a bit more of the actual assisting side,” said Rietveld. “We’ve filled 30 cavities and had three extractions, as well as multiple exams.”
Rietveld said that while it’s been a learning curve, the staff has been accommodating by showing them procedures and allowing them to shadow.
Another department that really immersed themselves in the daily operations were the public health and BEE teams.
Capt. Christina Collins, 132d MDG public health officer, said that they’ve been working with numerous shops to learn how the Navy, as well as the Army, operate their programs. This includes anything from galley inspections to radiation monitoring.
“We’ve been really fortunate to get knowledge in a lot of aspects that we don’t get to in the guard,” said Collins. “Especially when we go to deployed locations, they’re expecting us to train on this stuff that we don’t do routinely.”
The BEE team was able to learn proper radiation monitoring as well as tour the water treatment facility on NAS.
“In terms of the radiation and water levels, that’s protecting our people, our most valuable asset, so the BEEs have a very important job in ensuring the quality testing and keeping our people safe,” said Collins.
The public health team also plays a major role in ensuring people’s safety said Collins. This includes tasks such as pool inspections and confirming proper food safety is followed.
While there were many opportunities provided to the aerospace medical technicians, one in particular was the Tactical Casualty Combat Course (TCCC). The TCCC is designed to place medics in stressful situations while they practice emergency field care skills.
One of the aerospace medical technicians that completed the TCCC was Airman 1st Class Samantha Brooner. Fresh out of technical training Brooner had very little hands on experience with applying the skills she had learned.
“Everything was done verbally, but when we did the TCCC, everything we did, we had to physically do it and I thought that was awesome,” said Brooner.
Brooner said that the TCCC was her favorite experience as well as feeling like she contributed to something greater.
“Even though it looked like I wasn’t having fun, overall it just made me a better Airman and made me feel like I experienced more,” said Brooner.
While the entire 132d MDG was appreciative of the USNH Sigonella staff, the staff were equally appreciative said Hospital Corpsman 1 (HM1) Dizon.
“It was very important for you to be supporting us, we learned from and supported each other,” said Dizon. “It’s a big help to us to gain your knowledge. You guys have a big impact to us.”