Radiology staff provides reliable, rapid response in Iraq

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Carlos Diaz
  • U.S. Central Command Air Forces
The third Monday of February did not bring the radiology flight a day off from work, like it did for most of their counterparts in America on Presidents Day. 

The radiology staff kept uttering the phrase, "Man, we've been very busy today." 

As the sixteenth hour of the day passed, 38 patients had been treated at the Air Force Theater Hospital here. Inside this labyrinth of tanned tents, one can find a group of radiology specialists who employ two state-of-the-art CT scanners that help save lives every day. 

According to Lt. Col. David Condie, the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group radiology flight chief, the two 16-slice CT scanners are capable of producing 16 image planes. 

"These 16 slices per every revolution allow us to perform a CT scan much faster," he said. "Any minute we save prior to getting into the operating room translates into better improvement of survivability." 

Speed was evident this day as medics, nurses and technicians alike scurried to treat their patients. 

"This has been one of the busiest days in our rotation," said Master Sgt. Colleen Hitt, the 332nd EMDG aerospace medical technician. 

Sergeant Hitt said many of their patients' injuries are caused by improvised explosive devices, suicide bombers and major head trauma. 

Inside of a chilly, closed-quarters CT scan room, three medics raised a patient onto a platform bed. 

Tech. Sgt. Orlando Martinez, a diagnostic imaging specialist, monitored the readings from a set of computers behind a glass-style cubicle. 

Soon after, Army Sgt. Joe Peck, an X-ray technician, performed another CT scan.
According to the radiology staff, they perform 1,600 CT scans a month at an average of 53 per day. 

With that pace, the radiology staff always remains gainfully employed. 

Before a third consecutive CT scan is performed, Sergeant Peck preped the conscious patient. Within a few minutes, the CT scan is complete. 

"We're able to scan three-fourths of your body in less time than it takes to get a Big Mac," the 28-year-old Soldier said. 

"Hold still," Staff Sgt. Asia Tucker ordered. 

"It's important for the patient to remain motionless," the diagnostic imaging specialist said. "That way the images aren't blurred and we don't get inaccurate readings." 

Once a CT scan is performed, a radiology form is accomplished and the radiologist makes a reading and a recommendation to the surgeons. 

Around the corner, a group of radiology staff members wheeled a crib into the CT scan room. The white crib, decorated with soft, pastel colors, carried an infant Iraqi child. 

"It's OK, sweetie," Capt. Corey Norton kindly said as he comforted the child's innocent cries. 

Captain Norton, an Air Force nurse, and Army Spc. Ian Wolfe carefully removed the child from the crib and unto the platform bed. 

After the CT scan was complete, Captain Norton gladly said, "Thank you for getting her in." 

Several minutes later, a crew of medics waited along a wall of T-barriers for another patient. 

"I've learned so much here, and I love this experience," Staff Sgt. Donovan O'Linc said. He patiently waited for another patient to pass through Hero's Highway, the American Flag-emblazed canopy. 

Sergeant O'Linc dons his hearing protection, goggles and gloves. The team of medics races to the chopper and rapidly wheels the patient out. 

They're immediately met by the team of radiology specialists and nurses who briskly started performing their duties. 

After an immediate assessment, the patient is whisked away to another area.
Radiology specialist Senior Airman Juan Garcia wiped the beads of sweat off his forehead and quietly said, "Whew." 

All in a day's work.

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