Nighttime medics

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- This article is in preparation of nurse/tech appreciation week May 7 through 11.

The Air Force consists of a varied group of individuals and a diverse assortment of careers.

Additionally, each career field contributes to mission success in different ways. Whether turning a wrench in a torrential downpour or filing paperwork in a climate-controlled office, each specialty comes with a broad array of work shifts.

In certain circumstances, Airmen are asked to alter their natural rest cycles to uphold their commitment to service. The men and women operating and supporting the Urgent Care Center during the dead of night are a prime example.

"As doctors we work in 24-hour shifts, but the Airmen will work from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.," said Dr. Michael Wells, 366th Medical Group urgent care physician. "Other things the urgent care staff does during the nighttime include maintaining and checking all equipment from monitors to ambulances."

From treating minor coughs to life-threatening injuries, the UCC crew is ready for any medical issue.

"This is where you're going to see the widest variety of ailments," said Staff Sgt. Michael Sibbett, 366th MDG medical technician. "Here in the UCC you could be seeing somebody for their cold to suturing a finger."

The technicians manning the UCC must be well versed in the medical field and are expected to adequately execute a variety of duties their civilian counterparts cannot.

"When it comes to the techs who work here, they're similar to a licensed practical nurse with a few extra skills," said Wells. "For instance, a medical assistant in the civilian world would never suture up a hand, foot or a head, whereas the techs here are able to take care of those things."

Shouldering the responsibility of taking care of Gunfighters during such odd hours is not done by the UCC alone. They are supported by their fellow nocturnal wingmen who work in the laboratory and the Family Care Unit.

"When they have something going on and they need more nurses, we go down and help them out," explained 1st Lt. Jacqueline Cropper, 366th MDG obstetrical nurse.

Airman 1st Class Whitney Demers, 366th MDG medical technician in the FCU knows this kind of collaboration is crucial.

"It's all about teamwork, added Demers. "They will help us and we will help them."

The exemplary skill and dedication of these Airmen is not only an invaluable reassurance to the Gunfighter family, but the entire medical community as well.

"I was in the Army as a physician, and these are the best trained individuals I have ever had the privilege of working with," declared Wells. "They're a lot better at the things they do on a regular basis, from giving medication to doing minor procedures--things civilian medical technicians would not be capable of doing."