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Civilian ER Physicians Help Train New York National Guard Medics


CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, N.Y. - New York Army National Guard medical Soldiers turned their training up a notch Aug. 5, when they got some hands-on instruction from experienced emergency room doctors.

Dr. Anar Patel, an emergency medicine associate professor and Dr. Erica Igbindghene, another emergency medicine specialist, took a day away from their regular jobs at Albany Medical Center in New York, to share their specialist skills with the Medical Command, or MEDCOM, Soldiers.

The two have three years of combined experience working as resident physicians in the medical center's emergency room.

"Working with a few civilian counterparts gives our Soldiers an edge," said Col. James Coleman, the New York Army National Guard state surgeon. "They (the doctors) provide a level of training that most of the Soldiers haven't gotten before, especially in emergency situations, while manning a Combat Support Hospital."

The doctors spent the entire day instructing small groups of Soldiers on two key life-saving skills.

Working with a medical mannequin at Camp Smith's Medical Simulation Center, they taught the Soldiers how to insert a laryngoscope through the throat in order to open an air passage. They also taught the medical troops how to put an endotracheal tube into the lungs, so that a bag-mask ventilator can be applied to assist a patient's breathing.

The Medical Simulation Center is filled with advanced-level hospital-based medical mannequins that are connected to computers. These computers monitor the vital signs of the computerized "patients" so that the students know what works best in a life-saving emergency.

Sgt. Rachelle Cunningham, a medic team leader from Lee Center, N.Y., said that training with the emergency room doctors was extremely useful.

When her Soldiers went through the training, she made it a point to have a junior Soldier take charge of each drill.

"I like to place the younger Soldiers who are not experienced into a more senior role," Cunningham said. "By doing that, they are forced to see things their way, and then later make suggestions that we might not have thought of during the training."

Along with honing their medical skills, the MEDCOM Soldiers also worked on basic military skills like map reading and land navigation. In one exercise, for example, the troops had to navigate their way to the simulation center and then treat wounded troops coming in from the field, including working with Patel and Igbindghene.

For the two emergency room doctors, their day training with the National Guard was very worthwhile, Patel said.

"I'm definitely all in for this type of training," she said. "I will spread the word around Albany Medical Center about the high level of training that the New York National Guard does here, and bring more doctors here the next time."


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