Airmen start next of kin notification process

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. R. Michael Longoria
  • 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force - Iraq Public Affairs
If you blink, you might not see them. Four Airmen are working seamlessly with 91 Soldiers supporting joint operations at the Contingency Operating Base Speicher Combat Support Hospital, Iraq.

The Airmen are assigned to the 467th Casualty Liaison Team, 467 Air Expeditionary Squadron, which is responsible for completing reports on any casualty incident involving service members, U.S. contractors and Department of Defense personnel on the base.

"Our casualty liaison team is unique because we are all from different areas of the United States and have varying levels of experience," said Master Sgt. Apryl Wagner, the 467th CLT NCO in charge. "We first met at the casualty liaison training course, and then spent a month together at combat skills training. We have continued to bond and have performed well together in the joint environment."

CLT members report on all battle and non-battle illnesses or injuries, ranging from broken arms to those who pay the ultimate sacrifice.

"We ensure that all casualties are accounted for, reported and documented," Sergeant Wagner said. "It is vital that our reporting occur in a timely and accurate manner as it serves as the basis of providing casualty information concerning the incident circumstances to the next of kin."

In the event something does happen to one of the more than 4,500 personnel assigned to COB Speicher, the team receives a phone call or page and gets to the hospital as fast as they can.

"I've had to jump off of the treadmill and sprint from the gym to the hospital," said Staff Sgt. Janae Steude, a 467th CLT team member.

According to U.S. Forces - Iraq's Casualty Reporting and Processing Standard Operations Procedures, the team has three hours to send a report after an incident occurs.

"We want to get the report out immediately," Sergeant Wagner said. "Especially if it is something tragic, we want headquarters to have all the information as soon as possible, so they can notify the service member's family."

After the team member on duty is notified, they grab a CLT support form and make their way to the hospital. They gather all of the patient's information and any doctor's notes regarding the incident.

"We gather all pertinent information regarding the incident including the severity and diagnosis of the casualty's injury, as well as if it was a hostile or non-hostile," Sergeant Wagner said.

Once the team member has gathered the required information, they enter it into the Defense Casualty Information Processing System, which generates the report. The team also does supplemental reports on any patient that has a serious injury.

"We will do a report on them every 24 hours until their status is upgraded to a non-serious injury," Sergeant Wagner said.

The completed reports are sent to USF-I and the other team members, to keep them informed on what has happened.

"USF-I decides if any further action is required in regards to the incident," Sergeant Wagner said. "If there was a death, they will start the next-of-kin notification process."

Casualty reporting is a job the team is happy not to do, but they remain prepared to respond the moment they are called.

"Based on our mission, it's good when our section is slow. It means people are alive and healthy," said Sergeant Steude, who is on her fifth deployment in eight years. "But anything can happen at any time, so we must be ready 24/7."