16 March 2009

German-based medical units headed to Afghanistan

Airborne surgical team headed to Afghanistan
By Nancy Montgomery, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Saturday, March 14, 2009

HEIDELBERG, Germany — U.S. Army Europe’s only airborne surgical team is headed to Afghanistan this spring to provide quick, lifesaving surgeries for U.S. troops during the upcoming "surge."

The 67th Forward Surgical Team (Airborne), based in Miesau and one of only five airborne surgical teams in the Army, has received deployment orders to Afghanistan for up to a year. That unit’s soldiers provide trauma surgeries close to the battlefield in the "golden hour" — the first hour after a soldier is wounded and most at risk to die from shock and bleeding.

"We’re ready to do our part," said Maj. Cory Williams, team chief and a critical care nurse. "A good bit of my team is experienced both in deployments and clinically. We’re real motivated, and probably even more than usual because we’re paratroopers."

The team, with fewer than 30 doctors, nurses and medics who can all be packed into six Humvees, will also be treating NATO and Afghan troops as well as civilians, Williams said.

The unit is one of two Germany-based medical units deploying in the next few months.

The 30th Medical Command Headquarters also received orders for up to a year in Afghanistan. The command will oversee all U.S. medical assets in Afghanistan, set and coordinate medical policy, and work with the Afghan government to build health care capacity in the beleaguered country.

The 67th FST (Airborne), whose members usually work at Landstuhl hospital, was last deployed to Iraq in 2005. The 30th Medical Command deployed for seven months in 2003, and its headquarters deployed in 2005.

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