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Trident refit facility Sailor completes IA assignment.

With his Navy seal-dotted red bandana and modified Army camouflage uniform on, Hospital Corpsman Anthony R. Funk K quickly assists his team in establishing the vital signs of an improvised explosive d e vice victim. A din of numbers and terms fly, as a trauma coordinator captures them at the end of the gurney.

Dark red blood drips onto the floor.

At the tweet of a flatline warning whistle, Funk jumps up on the gurney and begins cardiopulmonary resuscitation with a team member. Tat day, the team treated three patients from that IED blast and two others. Unfortunately, this patient did not survive his traumatic injuries.

As everyone's adrenaline ebbs, it's time to reset for the next trauma; silently the team cleans the floor and equipment. A yellow bucket of water and disinfectant sloshes through the blood, fluids, dust and sand.

Later, Funk recalled that he would often feel nauseated at the sight of blood, before becoming a medic.

"The experience has been a real eye-opener, in your face reality," said Funk. "First time was a British soldier, double amputee in KAF [Kanda h a r Air Field]. This was back in February. I walked into the operating room and wondered, "What am I doing here?'"

The 22-year-old individual augmen tee hails from Naval Hospital Okinawa, Japan, the service's largest overseas, where he works in optometry. He has also been an emergency medical technician with the Wildland Firefighters in Oregon state.

"I didn't know that I would ever be on a Romanian [and U.S.] Forward Operating Base, with an Army uniform," Funk said later, adjusting his ACU cap. "I never thought I would be entrusted with someone's life, being able to work as I do."

When asked how he got past his trauma shock, he remembered his experiences with a slight pause.

"You have to realize it is about them, the patients," he simply said, looking up. "I ask where I can put myself in the team, [then] black out everything but the steps of treatment.

I think that shocked me into reality," he added. "I felt 'OK, this is what I am here to do, better the Navy and the rest of Coalition Forces, regardless where they are from."

This is the young corpsman's first deployment to Southwest Asia, a bit different from his hospital experience.

The hospital corpsman joined the 20-person Navy Forward Surgical Team 4509, assembled from 12 commands and units from throughout the world, in January 2010. The group began their two-week individual augmentation training at Camp McCrady, part of Fort Jackson, S.C., before deploying to Forward Operating Base Lagman, Zabul Province, Afghanistan.

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"At first, it was very surprising how we gelled together," said Funk. He credits the leadership being one of the keys. "Te personalities are more important," seeing how the team atmosphere grew and adapted to the mission.

One of his assets is being familiar with the different team position roles.

"[This] allows you to adjust to each patient who comes into the trauma unit," Funk said. "There are no questions; just react and provide. I can move to each location to help."

He also emphasized the importance of knowing what the equipment is in the trauma room, especially their purpose.

"Knowing where everything is and how to use it saves a lot of time and effort. When the doctors and nurses call out for something, I am confident that I can provide it," said Funk. "Sometimes, 10 seconds can be a big difference."

According to Funk, "Training is emphasized over and over again in many fields in the Navy, and medical is no exception. Cross-training between the team members, alertness, and thorough understanding of the mission are essential.

"I heard this so many times, but it is true," chuckled Funk. "You have to have a level head and be able to work with the people around you."

The FST has treated more than 130 patients, since being in country, ranging from double to multiple amputations, IED explosions, and various combat injuries. They even have treated citizen Afghans, such as an 11-year-old boy who fell from a cliff and had his legs saved through the team's efforts.

"It is amazing how people can get it together in a short time in such a dramatic, dangerous environment," added Funk.

When he returns to Okinawa, he plans to enter the preventive medicine technician program in February 2011. Ultimately, he strives to further his emergency medical technician certifications.

Wood is currently deployed with Task Unit Trident, part of Combined, Joint Special Operations Forces--Afghanistan.

Story and photos by MCC(SW) Jeremy L. Wood
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Title Annotation:IA 360 [degrees]; Hospital Corpsman Anthony R. Funk
Author:Wood, Jeremy L.
Publication:All Hands
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2010
Words:769
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