Synchronized surgery

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- It's early morning on MHAFB, and while many Airmen are just waking up, the 366th Surgical Operations Squadron is alive with action. Unbeknownst to their already sedated patient, the small operating room is swarming with an assortment of medical professionals, all working together in perfect harmony.

The harsh florescent lights throw shadows on the walls as the surgeon delicately operates, pausing only to ask a waiting technician for a new surgical tool. Like hawks, an experienced anesthesia provider and a practiced nurse vigilantly monitor vital signs, unwaveringly observing it all - ready at a moment's notice to assist the surgeon.

"Typically during surgery there's and anesthesia provider, at least one surgeon, one operating-room scrub tech and an OR nurse all working together to take care of the patient," said Maj. Jeffrey Jedynak, 366th SGCS anesthesia element leader.

A surgical team works together to perform an operation, July 29, 2013, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Patient safety is the number one priority for the 366th Surgical Operations Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton/Released)
For most, this might seem like a scene straight out of "Grey's Anatomy," but it's simply another day-in-the-life for the members of the 366th SGCS.

"It's definitely a safer environment having several people with different credentials all coordinating with each other to make sure we come to a consensus for the patient," explained Maj. Gary Leavitt, 366th SGCS perioperative nurse.

Due to its delicate nature, administering anesthetic can be one of the most stressful, yet vital responsibilities in the OR.

"As a certified registered nurse anesthetist, I do anesthesia for surgical cases to include general anesthesia, sedations, regional anesthesia and help out wherever needed throughout the hospital," said Jedynak. "Every patient we take care of basically puts their lives in our hands. It's a big responsibility and can be pretty stressful, but after a while it becomes a little less nerve-racking."

Members of the 366th Surgical Operations Squadron operate on a patient, July 29, 2013, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. During a typical surgery, there's an anesthesia provider, at least one surgeon, one operating-room scrub tech and a nurse working together to take care of the patient. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Shane M. Phipps/Released)
Despite intense job stressors, Jedynak stays focused on the reasons he puts his scrubs on each morning.

"I love my job," he said. It feels great to be able to take care of people."

Another key component of the OR is a skilled nurse, who oversees the technician and ensures all goes as planned. The nurses are typically responsible for the comfort of the patient as well as providing assistance when needed.

"Our days revolve around the patient," said Leavitt. "Once we get started, we take care of anything the surgeons may need and supervise the technician."

As always, everything in the SGCS is centered on patient safety, but many of these dedicated professionals wouldn't have it any other way.

"Everything we do is focused on patient safety," said Maj. DeeAnn Weed, 366th SGCS operating room nurse. "This is a very rewarding job, and I wouldn't want to work anywhere else in the nursing career field."