AL QAIM, Iraq --
People think that our job is just to go and fix somebody, but every life that you save is a father, a brother, son or daughter. It’s somebody that just wants to go home,” said Army Staff Sgt. Omar Ruiz, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge flight medic with 45th Medical Company.
The detachment of Soldiers of 45th Med in Al Qaim have spent a year ensuring that they do everything humanly possible to help wounded service members get back home.
Now, it is their turn to go home as they hand the medical evacuation mission over to the Soldiers of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment (MedEvac).
“I am really confident in their abilities,” said Capt. Spencer Cash, the Al Qaim team leader for 45th Medical Company. “We are a couple of days into (the turnover) and everything is running smooth. I would expect them to provide the same, if not better service than what we provided.”
The Soldiers of 45th Med, who will return to Germany, will hand over a very important mission in Al Qaim. They are responsible for providing immediate MedEvac response for the local area 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We are here to support Marines, Airman, Soldiers, civilians and local nationals,” explained Ruiz. “We don’t care who you are, we are going to take care of you. Anytime, day or night, rain or shine. We get the call from whoever needs us and we are going to do the best in our knowledge to keep that person alive.”
To provide constant service, 45th Med and now the 214th, have a crew who is always ready.
“We do that by having one dedicated line of MedEvac coverage 24 hours a day, with an additional backup crew,” explained Cash. “Within approval, our first crew is ready to launch in 10 minutes.”
Throughout the year, 45th Med has rotated different teams of Soldiers in and out of Al Qaim every three months. Despite the rotations of teams, 45th Med has been able to continuously provide the same support.
“We try to operate under the same principal of the quickest, safest MedEvac response to injured patients, whether it is coalition forces, (Enemy Prisoners of War) or civilians; we treat them all the same.”
One factor that 45th Med attributes to their success was their relationship with the service members on the ground in Al Qaim.
“We foster strong relationships with everyone we work with, we are not unknown people to the guys over at (1st Battalion 4th Marine Regiment),” explained Cash. “They know us very closely, as well as the (Battalion Aid Station). When we bring a patient back (to Al Qaim), it means that patient is not going to make the flight back to Al Asad and they need to be stabilized. When we have a patient like that, (the BAS) only has like three minutes to respond.”
A good relationship and communication between units helped keep service members alive, but 45th Med took it a step further while serving in Al Qaim.
“We integrated our operations with (the Marines) and it has helped tremendously in providing care for the patients,” explained Cash. “We trained with the (Aviation Combat Element) assets, like (Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting). We trained with them in case their service is needed, like if a patient was pinned in a vehicle, we don’t have that type of equipment.
They are trained and ready to send a crew.”
Looking back on their deployment, the Soldiers of 45th Med believe that their presence was felt.
“I think we have done an excellent job of providing service out here,” said Cash. “We have been through two different Marine ground units and both of them have been extremely satisfied.”
The Soldiers of Charlie 214th feel that 45th Med has done a good job and hope to follow in their footsteps and continue their successful support.
“We have been talking with (45th Med) for the last six months, to ensure that we had a seamless handoff,” said Capt. Jordan Roth, the detachment OIC. “That all comes back to supporting the guys on the ground, making sure that there is complete continuity. So, that God forbid, we never drop a mission and don’t interrupt the quality of service that we provide to the Marines here on the ground. I look forward to continuing on the good reputation that we have out here and the quality of service that we provide.”