FALLS CHURCH, Va. --
Two medical Airmen selected as the Air Force’s 2019 Outstanding Airmen of the Year award share their experiences, and how they support the Air Force both at home and abroad.
This year, Staff Sgt. Gary Jeffrey, storage and distribution noncommissioned officer in charge with the 81st Medical Support Squadron, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, and Senior Airman Misty A. Richmond, public health technician with the 52nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, received the award for their achievements.
“Out of more than 600,000 Total Force Airmen, these two exceptional medics were selected,” said Chief Master Sgt. G. Steve Cum, Medical Enlisted Force Chief and Enlisted Corps Chief, “Airmen like these two will define the future of the AFMS, and I believe we will be in good hands.”
The two Airmen took the time to provide their experience and perspective on being an integral part of the Air Force:
The “Log Dawg” - Staff Sgt. Gary Jeffrey
“Trust your leadership and be adaptable to change, which is sometimes easier said than done. Just know that even if you feel like it’s not a win for you personally, it’s a big leap forward in helping the many who look to us in the medical service for treatment and care.”
1. As a logistician, what does your job entail and how does it contribute to the larger mission?
– Staff Sgt. Gary Jeffrey
Daily operations for me is being the “gears” for a military treatment facility. I currently oversee the receiving, requisition, shipping, and delivery of medical supplies and equipment for the MTF. Contributing to the larger mission, my team and I ensure that clinics, doctors, nurses, everyone and anyone have the tools needed to provide patients with the best care possible.
2. There was an incident where your cross-command transfer of leech treatment ultimately saved a patient’s limb. Can you talk about what happened?
We had a patient that was dealing with serious burn/tissue decay and the intensive care unit doctor asked if there was any way we could get lab-grade leeches. At the time, I did not know this was a thing. Leeches were requested because the patient was unable to take certain medication to aid in recovery. What I found out was that the leeches release a type of protein and peptide that thin the blood. This prevents clotting, improves overall circulation and prevents tissue death.
My leadership and I looked into trying to get leeches, but the overall delivery time would take too long to give the patient the treatment needed. Eventually, we went out on a limb and made calls to MTFs seeing if they had any luck with expedited leech deliveries. Luckily, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base had a bunch of extra leeches they were trying to figure out what to do with. After that, we just asked if they could ship us the remaining ones overnight. Within 24 hours, the doctor and the patient got the leeches they needed.
3. How has your deployed experience influence how you do your day-to-day job when you come back?
While deployed as the medical logistician for all of North and West Africa, I was fortunate enough to serve in a joint environment. It was an eye opening experience and I was able to understand the full scope of what we do as “loggies.”
I was also able to serve alongside an amazing Air Force doctor as her right hand man for supply, equipment and transporting things like blood and vaccines. I got to see so many differences on how the medical system works to serve our sister services and what hurdles she needed to overcome to ensure our teammates were getting the best care possible.
It has also taught me a lot about adaptability with situations, environments and using the resources we have at hand. I also received a refreshed perspective on leadership from a variety of mentors from the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. They all lit a fire in me about serving in the military. They presented me with challenging problems to solve and were confident in my abilities that I could present them with sustainable solutions.
4. The 81st Medical Support Squadron transitioned to the Defense Health Agency on Oct. 1, 2018. Now that all MTFs transferred administration and management to DHA, what advice do you have for other Airmen during this transition process?
Trust your leadership and be adaptable to change, which is sometimes easier said than done. Just know that even if you feel like it’s not a win for you personally, it’s a big leap forward in helping the many who look to us in the medical service for treatment and care.
Also, give those folks in charge the time to process what is going on during the transition. These are big moves for the Military Health System that have never done before, so the MTF commanders, medical directors, and other leadership are busy trying to figure out what they can do to ensure you are taken care of and that our patients are given the high quality of care they deserve.
Ensuring safety and optimizing performance - Senior Airman Misty A. Richmond
“My advice for other Airmen is to take on leadership roles confidently and for the right reasons. Do it because you genuinely want to take care of others. I would also tell them to find their way. Find what motivates them and use that as fuel to become better each and every day.”
1. As a public health technician, what does your job entail and how does it contribute to the larger mission?
– Senior Airman Misty A. Richmond
Our role in public health is to protect the health of the population and optimize human performance.
My first responsibility entails inspecting all food and public facilities on base to ensure the food is safe and workers are conducting proper sanitation practices. We do this to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks on the installation. I also perform the Occupational Hearing Conservation audiograms for members who are occupationally exposed to hazardous noise. Additionally, I inspect all industrial shops on base to ensure members have the appropriate training and knowledge to protect themselves from hazards they are exposed to in the workplace. During deployments, I work to ensure every member is medically qualified to deploy and complete the mission.
2. What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part is that my job is so diverse. Every day is different whether it is working in Food Safety, Deployments, Community Health or Occupational Health. I am constantly getting the opportunity to interact with other members and learn about their jobs, as well as how they connect with the mission.
3. Discuss your role in Trident Juncture, the United States and NATO’s largest exercise since the Cold War.
I had to medically prepare every member to participate in this large exercise. This included everything from waivers and immunizations, to labs and dental. I had to track all of these members and work with their unit deployment managers to ensure each member was qualified to participate.
4. What advice do you have for other Airmen who want to take on leadership roles?
My advice for other Airmen is to take on leadership roles confidently and for the right reasons. Do it because you genuinely want to take care of others. I would also tell them to find their way. Find what motivates them and use that as fuel to become better each and every day.