Traumatic brain injuries - burns and amputations signature injuries of war. It’s up to the Air Force medics to transport the injured from war zones to hospitals.
In the past decade the process has changed - because of training that only happens in Cincinnati. Local 12’s Deborah Dixon tells us how those lessons of war are helping at home.
Here’s the training scenario: The patient is conscious, eyes are blinking but he’s in shock. He has a head injury and amputations from an IED or improvised explosive device. The other patient is burned. Three military medics try to communicate over the noise of the Air Force transport engines, and work through the darkness of flying over a combat zone at night.
The high tech stressful simulation is part of the training at UC Medical Center’s C- Stars program. C-Stars stands for Center for the Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills. There are three in the country. UC’s is the only one that trains Air Force trauma teams to fly the wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan to hospitals.
A critical care team monitors what the medics do. “We push them to level where they are are stressed. We want them to feel it in training.We want any mistakes made here on the ground.”
Grandson Tyler is one of the fifteen instructors who train the teams work in the trauma unit. Its director, Air Force Colonel Dr. Jay Johannigman, has been deployed six times. “I have no question, care here is different than it was 10 years ago because of the hard lessons learned at war. To not bring those lessons slights those privileged to serve.”
Lessons of war were used to treat Cincinnati Police Sergeant Ron Schaeper in 2011 after his car was hit head-on on Columbia Parkway. He was driving to work. His broken body and damaged brain were treated like a soldier from the battlefield.
Miami University senior Zach Stevens believes he is alive because of them. Zach was driving from his parents in Indianapolis back to Miami three years ago when he was broadsided by a van in Liberty, Indiana. His car was pushed across the street into propane tanks. The local sheriff resuscitated him. Zach was airlifted to UC Medical Center with two broken hips, a shattered femur broken ribs and much more. “My diaphragm was ripped, had a ruptured kidney, lacerated stomach moved up here. This lung collapsed, the other one partially collapsed, bruising up here.”
Mark also had blood clots and got pneumonia while in a medically induced coma. There was talk of gathering the family to say goodbye. But Dr. Johannigman and others in the trauma unit had seen this before. “What they told my parents, this is exactly what we see overseas. Its an example of explosion with the organs, body bruised everything. They literally had to put me back together.”
“Every night in Cincinnati I have the privilege of telling moms and dads, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles their loved ones are alive because we did everything to make this trauma unit like overseas at war.”
UC’s trauma unit sees 3500 patients a year. Most have injuries like Zach, from falls or accidents. Zach says his brush with death helps him see life in a different way. He’s more grateful for each day, and for his family and friends. And he’s grateful the lessons of war came home.